In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) partnered with the Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) to unveil “Atlanta’s HIV+ Population Now” art sculpture yesterday. The unveiling of this very powerful artistic presentation was preceded by a short luncheon update for the media on the status of HIV in our community and the work of AID Atlanta, one of the oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization in the south-east, in addressing the current crisis.
Created through support from the AHF Grant Fund, “Atlanta’s HIV+ Population Now”, an 8-foot arts installation, designed by local Atlanta artist Matthew Terrell, shows audiences the ever-growing problem of new HIV diagnoses in the Atlanta metro area. Taking inspiration from the iconic “Atlanta’s Population Now” sign located on Peachtree Street, which has charted our city’s growth since 1965, the “Atlanta’s HIV+ Population Now” sign uses data from the CDC (which has been compiled by the AIDSvu Map project at Emory University) to show how many people are diagnosed every day with HIV in the Atlanta Metro Area.
The piece, which takes the form of a pyramidal sign, simple text, and interchangeable marquee-style digits, will stay on display in the lower, external courtyard area of CCHR through June 27th, National HIV/AIDS Testing Day. To further exemplify the impact of the HIV epidemic in the Atlanta community, and to encourage public engagement, every Friday at 12noon, the artist will update the numbers in the marquee and will be on hand to discuss HIV with visitors, and to talk about the meaning of the project.
Recent statistics by AIDSvu show that, nationally, the downtown Atlanta corridor has one of the highest rates of people living with an HIV diagnosis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also reported that the HIV prevalence rate among people living in urban poverty areas is very high (2.1%) and exceeds the 1% cut-off that defines a generalized HIV epidemic.
“As AHF continues to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in communities across the nation, we have found the arts to be a powerful tool for breaking down the barriers of stigma and judgment, providing awareness and encouraging powerful and transformative dialogue on how diverse communities can work to combat this major public health issue,” shared Imara Canady, AHF Southern Bureau Regional Director for Communications and Community Engagement. “Through this artistic expression, we hope to both continue the awareness of the impact of the HIV epidemic in Atlanta and to work with the Center for Civil and Human Rights team, to create thought-provoking public discourse on how this community can address this epidemic.
About Matthew Terrell:
Matthew Terrell works as an artist, writer, and communication professional in the fine city of Atlanta. His work focuses on issues such as HIV/AIDS, drag culture, queer Southern identity, and the intersection of sexuality and technology. Terrell’s visual art has shown in San Francisco, Atlanta, and Savannah. He contributes reviews, essays, and articles for publications including BURNAWAY Magazine, VICE, Huffington Post, Creative Loafing, and ArtsATL. Terrell has spoken about issues related to HIV (including organ donation, PrEP, and other prevention initiatives), for NPR’s Here and Now, Georgia Public Broadcasting’s On Second Thought, and WABE’s Closer Look. His proudest moment was, while researching an article on Keith Haring’s work in Atlanta, finding a missing fragment of the original Haring mural. Terrell helped return the piece to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Terrell has attended Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Atlantic Center for the Arts, The Studios of Key West, and Serenbe Artist Residency. He has a BFA and MFA in writing from SCAD, and an MA in communications from Georgia State University. Terrell was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Prague, and studied international media at Charles University 2008-2009. He is an alum of Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta class of 2016, Burnaway Emerging Arts Writers Mentorship Program in 2015, and NPR’s Next Generation Radio in 2006.
About the Center for Civil and Human Rights:
The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Downtown Atlanta is an engaging cultural attraction that connects The American Civil Rights Movement to today’s Global Human Rights Movements. The Center features a continuously rotating exhibit from The Morehouse College Martin Luther King, Jr. Collection, which includes many of Dr. King’s documents and personal items. Visitors will be immersed in experiential exhibits through powerful and authentic stories, historic documents, compelling artifacts, and interactive activities. The Center is a source for ongoing dialogue — hosting educational forums and attracting world-renowned speakers and artists who work on a variety of human rights topics.
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