Visual AIDS is excited to announce our new Development Associate, Daniel DeLoma. Daniel brings with him a diverse history of activism and fundraising and will build lasting relationships with individual and foundation donors as well as our Artist+ members. Please help us welcome Daniel to Visual AIDS—stop by the Visual AIDS office to say hello or drop him a line at: [email protected]
I am incredibly honored to be joining this staff. I have been an admirer of the work of Visual AIDS for many years and even referred to parts of the organization for inspiration as I helped to build other nonprofits.
In the past, I served as the Director of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and as a board member for a number of other arts organizations. I enjoyed my time with these groups, but something always seemed to be missing. I have always loved the arts and longed for a way to connect my passion for supporting those living with HIV and AIDS to my professional life in fundraising and now I know that I have found the answer.
When I arrived at the opening event for VOICE = SURVIVAL at The 8th Floor on June 15, I had recently returned to my home in Queens after a brief stint in San Francisco. In February, while on the west coast, I learned that I am HIV-positive. I went to the opening of VOICE = SURVIVAL hoping for a much needed cathartic experience, and what I found after spending hours among the work of incredibly talented HIV+ artists and others provoking dialogue around HIV/AIDS was a sense of belonging that I had never felt before.
Among all of the amazing work in the exhibit was one piece that brought me to the “breaking point." This was the moment I knew that I wanted to be a part of the staff and work with Visual AIDS to help to further their mission. It was Shan Kelley’s Self Portrait. This simple blue-and-white textual piece had five words that seemed to speak not only for me, but for all of my fellow HIV-positive humans, both on earth and departed. It read—in individual letters which all came together to form a perfect figure—“DON’T LET ME FADE AWAY”.
Self Portrait solidified and confirmed an idea that I had held for a long time: many of those who died of AIDS related complications simply and sadly just faded away; and those who are currently living with HIV and AIDS are too often fading away without the opportunity to create or be heard. Visual AIDS, through their work and exhibits, assures that no one who has ever lived with the virus fades away. Because of all of this, I am going into my new role filled with passion and pride.
Recently, I have spent my time traversing New York City on foot and by telephone, collecting the stories of those who are living with HIV or AIDS and the stories from family members and friends of those who have died of AIDS related complications. I transcribe these stories and archive them digitally through Project + Connect and the Poz(+) Story Archives. These accounts give a feeling of immortality to those who are sharing them—many of whom are homeless or sex workers. The stories that they tell, most of which are heart-wrenching in some way, are true works of art.
I embarked on that ongoing project because I have no doubt that art makes us immortal. The artist is made immortal through their work and we, the observers are also made immortal. The artist takes our time and our struggle and forever forges them onto canvas or film or paper. We can never truly leave physicality behind so long as we have art. That is a wonderful thing. We must face the fact that HIV is far from being eradicated and AIDS is far from over. Thanks to Visual AIDS however, fine art is being produced in our name and therefore those of us who are living with this virus will never actually die.
I am incredibly excited to be able to help Visual AIDS carry on their mission and to be working beside a great staff and board as well as the best HIV-positive artists who tirelessly create to assure that none of us will ever fade away.