This semester is every bit the challenge I imagined it would be, but I could have never prepared myself for mind-altering experience it has turned out to be. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to grow as an artist in this amazing place that is CCAD.
I was able to successfully reconnect with nearly twenty HIV positive friends from five differently locations around that state. Columbus, Springfield, Cleveland, and Dayton were the cities I gravitated towards, mainly because of the number of friends in each of those locations. My aim remained true through to the last shoot – I was fortunate enough to be able to join these individuals in their homes, as well as accompanying them on everyday errands – allowing those sought after fleeting-moments in time to be captured.
Conversations have been and will continue to be on going, allowing me to gain rare extended insight with each courageous advocate, that I’m lucky enough to call a friend. Working together, there is not doubt we have the ability to fulfill the goals of the project. Which are to, first humanizing the disease, second normalizing the disease, thirdly destigmatize the disease. When someone realizes that they are just as much at risk as any other person engaging in risky behavior – the attitude towards positive Ohioans can be changed drastically.
It quickly began evident that this project will not come to and end with the close of the first semester. Ideally over the next year and half I would like revisit those I have already photographed in order to gather more pertinent information as well as meet with additional HIV+ Ohioans. The end result will be a book of stories and photographs titled, +Ohio: Advocate Portraits [I plan to have this completed in 2017]
Over these last fifteen weeks I was able to capture close to three thousand images, and with the help of my mentor was able to narrow that down to the most powerful, and moving images. It has been important since the inception of this project to pay homage to my friends, all actions have been taken with that top of mind. While I would like to show an entire gallery full of these images for the final show, the reality is we only have twenty-one feet of wall space. Because of space limitations I have chosen to display five images at 20×30 along with short story boards, sharing a bit of personal information about each subject pictured.
I can only hope that my efforts have some impact on those who are able to view the project. Together we can work to humanize, normalize, and most importantly destigmatize HIV/AIDS.
*Technical Update: The transition from film photography to digital photography has been a rough road but with the help of my instructors and fellow artist friends, I feel I am gaining ground, and very much look forward to the next three semesters here at CCAD.