Day With(out) Art

If you walked through the Africa: Arts of a Continent exhibition on Dec. 1st, you may have been slightly confused when you encountered a large case completely draped in a black cloth. The UMFA chose to conceal the beautiful Sowei helmet mask to mark its annual observance of Day With(out) Art, a worldwide event was started in 1989 by Visual Aids, a group of artists and activists who promote awareness of HIV infection and AIDS-related illnesses.
“Today, the landscape of AIDS has changed dramatically and people—especially those living in under-developed parts of the world—continue to suffer terribly,” said Gretchen Dietrich, UMFA Interim Director. “This December 1st, we are shrouding a single object from our collection to draw attention to the global impact of this epidemic.”
Visual AIDS stressed in a 1990 New York Times article that “Day With(out) Art in no way implies that artists are harder hit by AIDS than others. Rather, it hopes to encourage more government spending for AIDS education and services, and to counter discrimination against those who have the disease.”
Covering a work of art is just one way for museums to observe World AIDS Day. Some museums close for the entire day, somesend staff to volunteer at AIDS services, and others sponsor special exhibitions of work about AIDS. Since its initiation, Day With(out) Art has grown into a global effort with an estimated 8,000 participants including museums, galleries, art centers, AIDS service organizations, libraries, high schools and colleges.
If you were unable to participate in Day With(out) Art this year, please join us next December 1st to reflect on those who are now absent due to HIV or AIDS, those who continue to suffer from the disease, and those who constantly crusade for its cure.

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