The Memorial Art Gallery and River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester recently received a $20,000 grant from Rochester Area Community Foundation’s Lloyd E. Klos Fund and a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of “Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism and the AIDS Poster,” on view in 2022.
“These awards demonstrate the resilience of the arts in America, showcasing not only the creativity of their arts projects but the organizations’ agility in the face of a national health crisis,” NEA Chairman Mary Anne Carter said. “We celebrate organizations like the Memorial Art Gallery for providing opportunities for learning and engagement through the arts in these times.”
“Up Against the Wall” will display approximately 200 examples from more than 8,000-strong AIDS Education Posters Collection in the River Campus Libraries Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation. The posters, spanning from 1982 to the present, show how social, religious, civic and public health agencies addressed the HIV/AIDS pandemic within the public realm.
“These posters are important to understanding the evolution of how HIV/AIDS has been portrayed and what we have learned along the way,” said Jennifer Leonard, RACF president and CEO. “We are proud to partner with MAG and UR to showcase this collection.”
Organizations and creators tailored their messages to specific audiences by employing humor, emotion, scare tactics, simple scientific explanations and sexual imagery. Organized into two primary sections, “Up Against the Wall” will explore the HIV/AIDS crisis as reflected in the posters, bringing together the works of different sponsors’ targeted messaging, focusing on key messages, and examining the posters from various countries and different national responses.
“We are honored to be the home of such an important collection,” said Mary Ann Mavrinac, vice provost and dean of University of Rochester Libraries. “This exhibition will embody the depth of meaning, historically and currently, that the AIDS Education Poster Collection embodies, using art as a vehicle for community engagement, education and — ideally — a reduction in those affected by HIV/AIDS.”
The exhibition will be accompanied by a book to be published by RIT Press, which will include essays and illustrations. The book is meant to complement the exhibition and online interface of the collection, which is available at aep.lib.rochester.edu.
Throughout the exhibition, MAG will offer public programs and community engagement opportunities that explore the intersection of art, design, advocacy and health to continue the conversation surrounding the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and create opportunities to learn more about its past, present and future prevention.
Visit mag.rochester.edu/exhibitions/up-against-the-wall for information.