The 12th annual Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards (VAVA Voom) recognize the contributions of individuals who, through their work, talent and dedication, strengthen our communities and reinforce the mission of Visual AIDS. This year Visual AIDS is proud to honor Zoe Leonard, Sur Rodney (Sur) and Eric Rhein and recognize Brice Brown.
Brice Brown served on Visual AIDS Board of Directors from 2008-2015, and as Board President from 2011-2015, helping guide the organization and supporting our mission to utilize art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over. Here, Visual AIDS interviews former Board Member Steven Sergiovanni about their time together on the Visual AIDS board and Brice's commitment to art, AIDS and activism.
Visual AIDS: Brice served on Visual AIDS Board of Directors from 2008–2015, and as Board President from 2011–2015. Can you describe Brice’s role with Visual AIDS and how he supported the organization's growth over that time?
Steven Sergiovanni: Brice is worthy of respect and has always shown a lot of passion and compassion. We had been friends for several years before I joined the board and I knew that we worked well together. Brice’s spirit is so genuine and he draws people in. Something that we both have in common is a passion for art and realizing that our job at VA was truly to work on the artists’ behalf. The Artist+ Registry is something that is paramount to Visual AIDS. The resource it provides is inspiring and significant. Brice was always involved in its preservation.
Visual AIDS: You included Brice’s artwork in exhibitions during your time at Mixed Greens. How has your relationship to Brice’s work developed over the years?
Steven Sergiovanni: Our gallery had been collaborating with Benjamin Evan’s Projective City in Paris for our project space, Paris Scope. In 2014 we were looking for ambitious, site-specific installations with artists who may have obstacles in having their work come to fruition due to scale, space or financial constraints. Through the alchemical experiment of the possibilities of “action at a distance,” the viewer was able to peer into a space but not enter, through a fisheye lens. Brice’s ambitious installation was a perfect fit for our project space since his multimedia work fluctuates between large and small scale.
Since then I’ve visited Brice’s studio several times and presented his work to clients. His work is smart, challenging and deals with memory, beauty and decay and death.
Visual AIDS: What did it mean for you to be involved on the Visual AIDS Board yourself, and what are your favorite parts about the organization?
Steven Sergiovanni: I had been involved with VA since 2008. At that time I was attending the Strike bowling benefits, like everyone else I knew in the art world. It was mostly social for me at the time but as I learned more about the organization I became more enthusiastic about it. I think I was a bit shocked, and saddened, that no other AIDS organization’s mission was about supporting the art community in a similar way. For many years, I volunteered for the VAVA VOOM benefit committee before joining the Board of Directors, eventually becoming Vice President.
Brice Brown’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and reviewed in the New York Times, Artforum, Art in America, Artnews, The Village Voice, and on NPR. His work in public collections includes the Speed Art Museum, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, and Yale University.He founded two artist-run alternative art spaces, Front Window Gallery (2015-) and Milton Art Bank (2017-), and with Trevor Winkfield launched two artist-run arts journals, The Sienese Shredder (2006-2010) and Tether (2014-). He received a BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA from Pratt Institute.