By Raymond Ward, Chicago Crusader
Award-winning artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer Bill T. Jones makes a rare Chicago appearance in a free presentation at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 East 56th Place (57th Street and South Cottage Grove Avenue), Friday evening, January 27, at 7 p.m., in association with the Alphawood Foundation’s groundbreaking visual arts exhibition, Art AIDS America Chicago. Jones, a passionate HIV+ artist, will offer a one-night-only presentation with video, readings and photographs woven into the fabric of the evening. This program is free and open to the public; a $10 suggested donation will benefit the DuSable Museum. Advance registration is required and can be made by https://1466.blackbaudhosting.com/1466/Bill-T-Jones-Art-AIDS-America-Chicago or calling (773) 947-0600.
“Over the years since the death of my companion, Arnie Zane, from complications of AIDS, I have turned down many invitations to create works about HIV/AIDS or my own relation to it. The balance has been between being identified as a survivor of that era and an artist unafraid to create work from that precarious place where the public and the private reside,” Jones said. “With no small amount of apprehension, I do look forward to an event in which I shall attempt to speak and demonstrate what this struggle has come to mean in my life as a man, a performing artist and a member of society.”
“The mission of the DuSable is now more important than ever, with a renewed focus on education, advocacy and the reclaiming of the black narrative through our history, art and culture. We strive to promote discussion and to present artistic work that is particularly relevant to our community. Unfortunately, HIV/AIDS remains a major issue affecting African Americans, and this important dialogue brought forward by the amazing exhibit, Art AIDS America Chicago, and through the voice of such an accomplished artist as Mr. Jones, is one of many that we will continue to encourage and support,” said Perri Irmer, President and CEO of DuSable.
Bill T. Jones, 64, has received myriad major honors. More recent awards range from the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award and 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. Jones was honored with the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award.
About Art AIDS America
This is the first exhibition to explore how the AIDS crisis forever changed American art. Since the first reports of mysterious illnesses in the early 1980s, HIV and AIDS have touched nearly every American in some way, and operated as an undeniable, though often unacknowledged, force in shaping politics, medicine, culture and society. Art AIDS America offers a story of resilience and beauty revealed through the visual arts, and of the communities that gathered to bring hope and change in the face of a devastating disease.
Art AIDS America Chicago is the local – and largest – iteration of this groundbreaking national exhibition which underscores the deep and unforgettable presence of HIV in American art. The exhibition features some 170+ significant contemporary works on display at the Alphawood Gallery.
The Alphawood Foundation, a Chicago-based, grant-making private foundation working for an equitable, just and humane society, is proudly presenting Art AIDS America here.