By: Summer Tyler
On Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, students went to the Multicultural Center to paint a banner to bring awareness to HIV and AIDS and the stigmas that surround it (Photo by Summer Tyler)
World AIDS Day is Dec. 1, and the Purchase Multicultural Center decided to raise awareness about AIDS and how communities can be affected through an art display called the AIDS Day Banner. This idea to create a piece of artwork in order to raise awareness was inspired by the AIDS Day quilt, the largest community art in the world that both symbolizes the AIDS pandemic and helps to bring communities together in hopes of educating people on the subject.
”The idea of painting a banner together came to me when thinking about what kind of event I could plan for World AIDS Day that would really bring people together. I think that this event achieved that, people were able to use creativity to contribute to raising awareness for a really important cause,” said Indi Richardson, a Multicultural Center student worker.
HIV and AIDS is a disease that has not only been detrimental to several communities both physically and mentally over the last 40 years, but has also served in bringing about leadership in society in being able to both spread awareness and educate others in hopes of ultimately ending the epidemic.
“I’m happy with how the event turned out, and I hope to plan more events like this in the future. The arts are a super important part of Purchase College and I love to see students use their creativity to spread love, kindness, and awareness,” said Richardson.
“We had been discussing the AIDS quilt and Indi thought the banner would be another way to artistically represent the people who have been lost to the virus as well as raise awareness about being safe and getting tested. The idea is to make a banner that people can come and put their artistic energy into that can be displayed in the Center on World AIDS Day every year, “ said Elizabeth Elvira, assistant director at the Multicultural Center.
On World AIDS Day, Purchase community members came to the Multicultural Center and were able to write the name of someone they knew personally who has suffered from AIDS, paint a small picture, or write an impactful message relating to AIDS and the problems that have risen concerning how the disease has affected certain communities.
“I'm glad it was created to show social awareness within the Purchase community. It definitely created conversation anytime somebody would walk in and see the poster. I believe that the more actions like this that Purchase takes could definitely lead to change within the negative connotations around AIDS,” said Chelsea Asemota, a student worker at the Multicultural Center.
The negative connotations surrounding AIDS has hurt communities, especially the queer community, in driving a narrative that both stigmatizes and misses informs people about the truth and what precautions to take to ensure both safe sex and the care to take after people receive a diagnosis.
Through creativity, the Multicultural Center at Purchase used artwork in order to display a powerful message and to get community members involved. Getting the Purchase students involved in creativity and art speaks to the creative minds at Purchase and has had the impact of educating students and inspiring others to be mindful about World AIDS Day and communities affected by the disease.