Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS from October 29th to December 7th at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Written by Fiona Yang
The AIDS Quilt is a poignant, heart-wrenching piece of art that serves as a reminder of the impact of the AIDS crisis. Conceptualized by activist Cleve Jones, the quilt had its humble beginnings in June 1987. Jones asked permission for the first five panels of the quilt to be hung from the mayor’s balcony on Gay Freedom Day in San Francisco. After that, people began donating panels. A quilt of 1,920 panels was unfolded at the National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights in October 1987. The quilt being displayed in such a public space inspired many more to donate; the quilt now consists of over 49,000 panels. It also raised a quarter of a million dollars for AIDS organizations around the country.
As a piece of art, the Quilt symbolizes many things. It represents an item of comfort, for example. Jones wrote in his book that it reminded him of grandmothers, generations of women sewing something “beautiful, useful, and warm.” It represents healing; Jones hoped that the making of quilt squares could be therapeutic for the LGBT+ community, which had been traumatized by years of death. Most importantly, Jones wanted the Quilt to represent the humanity of those who had died from AIDS. He wanted to “humanize the statistics,” to make it apparent that those who had died livedvibrant lives and were grieved.
Jones hoped that by humanizing victims of AIDS, the media would be able to use it as a tool to better advocate for the AIDS crisis, and the Quilt was very effective to this end. The Quilt was just one of many pieces of protest art during this time that were utilized in the same way. During the 1980s, at the worst of the AIDS crisis, LGBT+ activism was on the rise in response to a governmental inaction. The most prominent on the activist scene was ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). Chapters of ACT UP staged protests outside the FDA, the CDC, and on Wall Street. Their protests actively changed the medical landscape; research on a cure moved along much faster with momentum from ACT UP.
Along with the organization’s powerful message were powerful visuals. For instance, one famous poster simply reads “Silence = Death.” The slogan is iconic now; the quote even features in Antonius Tin-Bui’s “Not Sorry for the Trouble” paper cut pieces here in Stamp Gallery. “Silence = Death” is referring to the lack of action by the administration, along with public health institutions, to address the AIDS crisis. The slogan does not mince words; it links the silence of the reader and governmental institutions directly to the many deaths attributed to AIDS. It speaks to a feeling of deep anger, frustration, and hopelessness in the LGBT+ community. In this way, it is a deeply emotional piece, much like the AIDS Quilt.
However, it was meant to be more than just a gesture of grief. Avram Finkelstein, the creator of the poster, posits the slogan and iconography of “Silence = Death” as urging direct political action. He writes in a post for the New York Public Library, “In order to ‘sell’ activism in an apolitical moment, the poster… needed to be advertising. So the poster was strategically wheat pasted alongside commercial posters by professionals. We chose this context to signal an “authorized voice,” and to hint at resources and a level of political organizing which were non-existent. The font was graphically on trend. The black background carved its own space in the urban clutter of commercial advertising.” The tag line was picked up by ACT UP and made its way into the public sphere, where it has since defined a generation of LGBT+ activism.
The art surrounding the AIDS crisis has been deeply poignant and meaningful for victims of the crisis, as well as members of the general public. But these pieces serve as more than just an emotional outlet. They are calls to action. In this way, these pieces of art attain true iconographic status.
The AIDS Quilt is included in Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 29th to December 7th, 2019.
For more information on the AIDS Quilt, visit https://aidsmemorial.org/theaidsquilt/.
Cleve Jones on the AIDS Quilt: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/how-one-mans-idea-for-the-aids-quilt-made-the-country-pay-attention/2016/10/07/15917576-899c-11e6-b24f-a7f89eb68887_story.html
Avram Finkelstein on “Silence = Death”: https://www.nypl.org/blog/2013/11/22/silence-equals-death-poster
Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS from October 29th to December 7th, 2019 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Written by Gabrielle O’Brien
In the current exhibit, “Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS”, the Stamp Gallery is lucky enough to feature panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Currently comprising over 50,000 panels and weighing 54 tons, the AIDS Memorial Quilt is the largest ongoing community folk art project in the world. The Quilt began in 1987 in San Francisco during the height of the AIDS epidemic as a way to remember and honor loved ones who died from the disease.
Since then, thousands of panels from around the world have been added to The Quilt by family members, partners, and friends, each one a unique and personal memorial to someone who lost their life to AIDS. The Quilt brings humanity to the AIDS epidemic, a crisis that is often clouded by stigma and impersonalized with science. The panels featured in the Gallery include panels for those who lived local to College Park, including some UMD alumni. Each panel is distinctive with some integrating photographs, others including articles of clothing, and many with handwritten messages.
Yet the love and the pain and injustice of loss is obvious throughout all panels. This not only makes the crisis feel all the more real, but also highlights the universality of the AIDS epidemic. Having panels of The Quilt here for the first time in 30 years emphasizes the fact that AIDS still constitutes a crisis today and is not a thing of the past. In fact, 770,000 people died from AIDS-related illness worldwide and 37.9 million people were living with HIV in 2018. In an age where scientific knowledge expands each day and biomedicine advances at a rapid rate, it is unacceptable that we are allowing so many lives to be taken by a potentially curable and treatable disease. This is where the AIDS Memorial Quilt may serve its most important purpose—to remind the world of the souls behind the numbers and motivate those with power to finally bring an end to the crisis.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is included in Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 29th to December 7th, 2019.
Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS from October 29th to December 7th, 2019 at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Written by Maddi Rihn.
During the summer before my sophomore year of high school, I wasted endless hours in the makeshift studio space that was my bedroom, spreading acrylic paint amateurly onto canvas. I distinctly remember listening to a select few albums over and over, one of which was (fittingly) Hop Along’s Painted Shut. The cover, a semi-exaggerated take on the traditional still life, features a large stack of fruit on a blue background, skillfully rendered by the lead singer (Frances Quinlan) herself. Not only did listening to this album while painting draw an inextricable attachment for me between experiencing art and making art, but it also led to a certain realization. As a newly budding musician and a longtime visual artist torn between genre, I came to understand that I didn’t have to choose a single medium to devote my energy to; mediums across the artistic spectrum – whether it be music, painting, dance, or literature – overlap, influence each other, and work together in a very important and necessary way.
There are countless other examples of this relationship, especially when it comes to art and literature. In 1964, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights published Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems, a collection of poems infamously written during O’Hara’s breaks while working at the Museum of Modern Art (where he later became a curator). Currently, an exhibition in the MoMA features the work of O’Hara and artist Larry Rivers intertwined and in conversation with one another. In another example of the art-literature line being blurred, Jack Kerouac’s Book of Sketches was published posthumously in 2006, containing a number of documentary “spontaneous prose poems,” – what Kerouac liked to call “sketches,” – written during Kerouac’s travels across the United States. Language is so often used as media, in the way that paint is used for a painting, to create a work of art.
In the current exhibition in the Stamp Gallery, Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS, two of Shan Kelley’s pieces, Self Portrait III and Count Me Out, break down the art/literature barrier. Count Me Out reads like poem meant to be spoken aloud, while Self Portrait III reads more like art, like how Jenny Holzer’s Truisms read. Within the realm of a single medium in both of these pieces, Kelley creates two different distinctive mediums and subsequent meanings – that is, what is generally considered to be “art,” and what is generally considered to be “literature.” Rather than drawing a distinct separation, he blurs the line between them.
In the past couple of weeks on the Stamp Gallery radio show, Art Hour, I’ve been hoping to get a further grasp on the connections between these three artistic mediums. Each week, a playlist is curated by one of the docents at the gallery in relation to the current exhibition, along with a short description of how the songs go along with themes, ideas, or images of the exhibition. Though some pairings might be more obviously fitting than others, it’s been interesting to see the many interpretations of how songs relate to artworks in the gallery. Though I have yet to arrive at a particular definition of this relationship between art and music (or between any other mediums, for that matter) I continue to witness examples of it almost everywhere I go, taking the form of comics, film, music, or visual art.
Shan Kelley’s work is included in Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 29th to December 7th, 2019.
Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS from October 29th to December 7th at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Written by Balbina Yang
“Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS” is not only eye-catching but also moving. Through various iconography, the works featured in this exhibition explore deeper the experiences that the artists bring with them. From the icons of the Red Cross to the pansy, Lucas Rougeux, Antonius-Tín Bui, and John Paradiso challenge viewers on their perceptions on commonplace objects in the LGBTQ+ community.
The Red Cross has been around for decades, and the image of the red cross is a symbol of aid. In “Clean Blood Only,” Rougeux highlights this symbol by painting it in the center of the canvas. However, although it has connotations of help and in a sense, safety, its surroundings say the contrary. In the wake of the Pulse shooting, many blood donation centers put out a call for blood claiming that anyone was welcome to donate. Rougeux scatters text, such as “All Types” and “Free Snacks” to portray an amicable, non-discriminatory environment. Unfortunately, these blood donation centers restrict gay men, especially those with HIV/AIDS from donating their blood. Obviously, with such a limitation, the centers are not as welcoming as they claim to be. Rougeux calls upon this hypocrisy, which is only further heightened by the stark red of the red cross that was – is – supposed to be a symbol of inclusivity.
Rougeux is not the only one who utilizes iconography in the artwork. Bui draws upon their experiences as a non-binary Asian-American to create vivid and intricate paper-cut designs that make up their “Not Sorry for the Trouble” series. Coming from a Vietnamese background, Bui is concerned with bridging the gap between their experiences as an Asian-American and their experiences as non-binary, part of the LGBTQ+ community. First, through their work, they remind us that AAPI do exist in this community, and second, the perceptions towards them need to be addressed, particularly in the HIV/AIDS crisis. Such perceptions include sexual stereotypes that do nothing but hurt AAPI. Bui cuts out East Asian icons, which act as the base of their messages. In “Not Your Submissive Bottom,” an ancient warrior is surrounded by flowers from which tassels hang. The text in all-capitals, the delicate paper cutting, as well as the vibrant red against the white, create a sense of urgency to Bui’s message: that AAPI in the LGBTQ+ community are not your stereotypes.
In “Pansies and Tulips,” Paradiso creates an evocative quilted piece that display of gay men, especially during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the center of the piece is a snapshot of two men kissing and surrounding them are colorful pansies. The pansy may be just a flower, but in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s also a derogatory word used to describe gay or feminine men. With such negative history, Paradiso reclaims both the word as well as the icon to evoke a beautiful and haunting sentiment. However, while he reclaims “pansy,” he reminds us that the stigma around gay men still exists as exemplified by the “CAUTION” tape that runs throughout the piece. The “CAUTION” warns the viewer that what they’re about to see is still taboo even in modern day and that the LGBTQ+ community is very much still marginalized within society.
Every single piece in “Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS” is colorful and evocative. The HIV/AIDS crisis happened largely in the ‘80s, and that was only a few decades ago. While it has died down, there is still very much stigma towards the disease and those with it. Rougeux, Bui, and Paradiso not only remind us of the crisis and the community involved, but they also use stark but beautiful iconography to transform their experiences into those that others can gain knowledge from.
Antonius-Tín Bui, Lucas Rougeux, and John Paradiso’s works are included in Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 29th to December 7th, 2019.
For more information on Antonius-Tín Bui, visit http://www.antoniusbui.com/.
For more information on Lucas Rougeux, visit https://www.instagram.com/lucas.j.rougeux/?hl=en
For more information on John Paradiso, visit http://www.john-paradiso.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=25209&Akey=2C782FMS
Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS from October 29th to December 7th at The Stamp Gallery | University of Maryland, College Park | Written by Marjorie Antonio
Antonius-Tín Bui’s papercut works are lined up at the forefront of Stamp Gallery in this year’s exhibition “Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS.” Underneath the gallery spotlights, the complicated shadows of the intricate papercut works are exposed, lending the two-dimensional works a three-dimensional effect. I interpret this effect as an allegory to a marginalized community within the greater marginalized community of gay culture: Asian American LGBTQIA+ individuals.
Asian American LGBTQIA+ individuals exist. While it may have gone without saying, it is not uncommon for Asian American families and overall culture to brush off “tendencies” of queer AAPIs. Gender and sex are not often talked about within Asian American families, especially within Vietnamese, Laotian, Hmong, and Cambodian refugee populations, many of whom experienced trauma due to war and militarization. Communication between the 1st generation and 2nd generation Asian immigrants and Asian Americans are impacted by stress factors such as language barriers, acculturation gaps, and culture shocks.
Bui’s Not Sorry for the Trouble is a response to the shared AAPI experience of intergenerational trauma, as well as a challenge to the stereotypical notions that AAPIs are silent, apolitical, and submissive. Looking at the structures of Not Sorry for the Trouble, the cut paper forms are delicate and incredibly detailed. This medium may also be a nod to the Chinese origin of the paper cutting art form. The shadows of the cut paper forms elevate the pieces from the physical flatness and provide a mesmerizing effect for the viewer from all angles. Each piece has a dedicated spotlight that emphasizes an illusioned physical depth. I interpreted this depth as the elucidation of Bui’s message about aspects of the AAPI and AAPI LGBTQIA+ community.
The cut paper forms are crafted around a phrase, in order as follows: “Fight Segregaytion”, “Silence = Death”, “Act Up, Fight Back, Fight AIDS!”, “Not Your Submissive Bottom”, and “Not Your Token.” “Segregaytion” refers to the predominant white, heteropatriarchal gay spaces that Bui exists in. I interpreted this piece as a response to gay culture as determined by white men, which have marginalized racial minorities who identify as gay. By speaking of the divide within the gay community, Bui advocates “fighting segregaytion” and finding unity instead. “Not Your Submissive Bottom” and “Not Your Token” both refer to the perceptions of AAPI LGBTQIA+ individuals. It is commonly perpetuated in the media and popular culture that gay Asian men are “submissive bottoms” due to the effeminate performative qualities that some gay Asian men subscribe to. This is a harmful stereotype since it does not speak for all gay Asian men and has greater implications if one considers the history of white colonialism, supremacy, and militarism in Asia. The “submissive” trait that is tacked on Asian and Asian American individuals is a product of lingering power dynamics between the colonizer and the colonized, where the colonizer is the white man and the colonized are the imperial subjects and indigenous population. Bui challenges the problematic perceptions of AAPI LGBTQIA+ individuals by providing a medium to discuss the oftentimes forgotten history of United States imperialism in Asia.
Bui’s pieces “Silence = Death” speaks directly to the shared Asian experience of silence. The American emphasis of the 1st Amendment right to free speech is contrasted to the shared Asian experience of silence about intersectional issues of gender, sex, racism, and abuse. By leaving these issues to fester in the shadows, Asian Americans, not just AAPI LGBTQIA+ individuals, are at risk for sexually transmitted infections. According to an article published by Thy Vo in 2016, “Asian Americans are the least likely to use protection, with 40 percent of Asian American women having unprotected sex in their lifetime, according to a 2005 study. Another study found that 44 percent of college-aged Chinese and Filipino women used withdrawal as a contraceptive method, compared to the national average of 12 percent.” These statistics show that the silence surrounding AAPI issues impact the health of the greater AAPI community, in addition to AAPI LGBTQIA+ individuals. “Act Up, Fight Back, Fight AIDS!” is a call-to-action of mobilizing the AAPI community to reduce the risk of AIDS.
While I have attempted to interpret Bui’s work in the lenses of Asian American history, post/colonialist studies, LGBTQIA+ studies, and art form, I acknowledge that I am only scratching the surface of what their work truly conveys. Not Sorry for the Trouble is a dynamic work that every time I view it, I come out with another interpretation that leaves me wondering how five cut paper forms capture the essence of a shared Asian American experience. It is also a homage to the LGBTQIA+ AAPIs who have been actively forgotten and erased.
I am only able to interpret Bui’s work to this extent due to my privilege in learning about Asian American history and other intersectional issues that the AAPI community experiences through University of Maryland, College Park’s Asian American Studies program. I recognize that not many people are able to learn about the marginalized histories of AAPIs in an academic setting, and my own experience is uncommon within the larger academic emphasis on the United States and European histories. I am cognizant that my research and academic interests are focused in Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Therefore, I am not as familiar in East Asian influences in Bui’s work, so I elected to not focus on the East Asian shared experience, but others have. The community of AAPI artists, performers, and creatives are growing and I am excited to see if and how they visualize their experiences in their artistic work.
I was incredibly humbled when Bui’s work was featured at the Stamp Gallery since I do not see a lot AAPI artists in museum and gallery spaces especially in conversation about the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is dominated by the gay white male perspective. Antonius-Tín Bui is a queer, gender non-binary, Vietnamese American artist who created Not Sorry for the Trouble who engages and will to continue to engage a dialogue on AAPI sexuality, silence, perceptions. Under the gallery spotlights, the cut paper forms of Not Sorry for the Trouble drop shadows that bring intrigued observers in, setting the stage for a larger dialogue of the intersections of art, AAPI identity, Asian American history, LGBTQIA+ issues, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and so much more.
Antonius-Tín Bui is the child of Paul and Van Bui, two Vietnamese refugees. Not Sorry for the Trouble is a series of traditional cut paper forms that have re-imagined to confront Asian American Pacific Islander issues. The phrases incorporated stand in contrast to the stereotypical perception of AAPIs as being silent, apolitical, and submissive. These five works from the series are directly inspired by Bui’s lived experience as a queer, gender non-binary, Vietnamese American in a predominantly white, heteropatriarchal gay spaces. Bui made this work specifically for their queer ancestors, the LGBTQIA+ AAPIs who have been actively forgotten and erased.
References and Further Reading:
“A Day in the Queer Life of Asian Pacific America,” Smithsonian Asian Pacific Islander Center. http://smithsonianapa.org/day-queer-life/
“Billy Porter Gives A Brief History of Queer Political Action,” Youtube Video, 5:44, posted by “them,” June 27, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoXH-Yqwyb0.
David, E.J. R., “We Have Colonial Mentality: An Honest Call to the Filipino American Community,” in Filipino American Psychology: Personal Narratives, 97-105. Edited by Nadal, 2010.
See, Sarita E. The Decolonized Eye: Filipino American Art and Performance. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009.
Vo,Thy. “A Hard Silence to Break: LBGT Vietnamese Struggle for Understanding.” Voice of Orange County, February 8, 2016. Accessed November 9, 2019. https://voiceofoc.org/2016/02/a-hard-silence-to-break-lgbt-vietnamese-struggle-for-understanding/
Antonius-Tín Bui’s work is included in Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS at The Stamp Gallery of the University of Maryland, College Park, from October 29th to December 7th, 2019.
For more information on Antonius-Tín Bui, visit http://www.antoniusbui.com/.
Deadline for Submissions: Friday, November 22, 2019
Notification for proposals: Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Exhibition Dates: Jan 6 – Feb 1, 2020
The Stamp Student Union Gallery announces a call for student artwork for a juried exhibition to be held during the Winter Session. Artwork in this exhibition will be displayed on the walls in front of the windows of our gallery during the winter session; all forms of media, including 2-D, 3-D and digital, are accepted.
Proposals are open to all currently enrolled University of Maryland students. Any questions about the submission guidelines can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Selected artwork will be exhibited in the Stamp Gallery in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland, College Park between January 6th-Feb 1st.
Applicants must submit:
- Proposed works with title and short description (up to 200 words), year of production, and medium)
- 5-10 images/files (JPEG 72 dpi), video/audio clips should be shared as a link to a streaming site (with password information as necessary
PLEASE EMAIL SUBMISSIONS TO: email@example.com
So often exhibitions just seem to appear. Especially here at our Stamp Gallery, you may see us taking things de-installing one Tuesday and then our next opening is the following Thursday. While we do work very quickly, there is a whole team and world that exists behind the scenes that goes into planning, installing, and hosting every exhibition in any art gallery. As the Graduate Assistant for the Stamp Gallery, I thought I’d take this chance, the first day of our most recent exhibition Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS, to pull back the curtain a little and talk about the planning, the installation, and what went into making an idea come alive.
How did you all come to the idea for the topic of the exhibition?
Exhibition ideas come from all sorts of places, sometimes people email us with their ideas or come by the gallery and speak to either myself of the Gallery director. In this case, this exhibition was the idea of one of our friends in MICA (Multicultural Involvement Community Advocacy). Collin was interested in bringing the NAMES Project Foundation AIDS Memorial Quilt to campus and encouraging the conversation of a global epidemic that has touched millions of lives over multiple generations. At the start of the fall semester (yes that early!) we sat down to discuss what the message we would want to impart. . Especially as a gallery that focuses primarily on contemporary art, how would we bring a public project such as the Memorial Quilt (begun in 1987) into the present for our student body and public who visit us.
Where does the art come from/ how are artists chosen to be featured?
We have a few different ways for choosing the art and artists that go into the exhibition and for this specific show we used a variety as well. Towards the beginning of September we placed a few artist call-for-entries in local artist forums. The Stamp Gallery focuses on emerging and mid-career level artists, particularly in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia areas. Three of our artists, Antonious-Tin Bui, Lucas Rougeux, and John Paradiso, were selected via the submission and selection process and are local. Occasionally, there may also be artists that we know or have been put in contact with that have a particular association with the exhibition topic. This was how our fourth artist, Shan Kelley, was chosen despite being a Canadian-based artist.
You all install your own work? How does that go?
This might be my favorite part about working at the Gallery! Myself, our director, and our undergraduate docents handle the art, rearrange the gallery, and stage lighting
ourselves for each and every exhibition. For this show, we had a little over a week, not counting the weekend, to deinstall our previous exhibition and install this one. Depending on the previous show it can be a little more involved. Before the opening of our first exhibition of the semester, the gallery was a bright, eye-catching red and we had to patch, prime, and paint the walls back to their neutral white color. That was time-consuming. Still Here was a relatively easy install given the mixed-media displayed; none of the pieces were oddly shaped or excessively heavy. Nevertheless, how things are installed get pretty creative: Antonious’ Not Sorry For Your Trouble pieces are particularly delicate traditional paper cutouts and had to be installed in a way that wouldn’t hurt or detract from the art. Shan Kelley’s Self-Portrait III is also very delicate and actually mounted using rare Earth metal magnets. Install always keeps you on your toes.
So, the art is chosen and displayed, what happens now?
Now we start planning the next exhibition! Well, not exactly. While this show is up we have a few different programs planned to facilitate conversation and awareness around the subject matter. Especially working with MICA for this exhibit, we hope to involve organizations on campus, bring guest speakers, host artist talks, and have class tours of the space. The Gallery also has its semester-long programs including biweekly Sketch Nights, regular Gallery Meditation lunch breaks, and weekly the weekly radio show, Art Hour, on UMD’s very own WMUC. We will start planning our next exhibition shortly, though, and that will be a student-submitted show that runs through winter break.
I hope these provided a little more insight to what goes on at the Stamp Gallery. We are a pretty unique gallery that tries to tune-in to what our campus and community are thinking and talking about. The Gallery is open 6 days a week and Still Here: Art on HIV/AIDS will be running through Saturday, December 7th. Stop by to check out the pieces I spoke about a little and feel free to chat with myself or any of our wonderful docents who have been as involved with this project as I have. All of our programs are free and available to the public, unless otherwise posted, and we always update our Instagram, Facebook, and webpage with upcoming events. So come visit and stay awhile!
Can’t wait to see you,