BROOKLYN ART EXHIBIT TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUTHIV/AIDS CRISIS AFFECTING NYC YOUTH
WHAT: Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education, in collaboration with art curators Jeff Beler and Frankie Velez, and acclaimed photographer James Weber, will host the official dedication of the What’s Your Sign? Mural Project. The zodiac-inspired mural featuring the talent of 16 renowned street artists will be dedicated to the life and work of the late AIDS Activist Alison Gertz, whose AIDS-related death in 1992 at the age of 26 inspired the organization’s founding. The street art exhibit and event will also raise public awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on New York City youth, especially disproportionately high rates of new HIV infections and new AIDS diagnoses among New York City’s Black and Latino youth.
WHO: Love Heals, the Alison Gertz Foundation for AIDS Education and The New York City Health Department
WHERE: St. Johns Place and Underhill Avenue (near Plaza Street East), Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York
WHEN: Saturday, October 31, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Dedication Ceremony – 11:30 a.m. (This event is re-scheduled from October 3rd, which was postponed due to inclement weather)
WHY: Despite remarkable progress in HIV prevention and care, New York City’s Black and Latino populations continue to bear a disproportionate burden of the city’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Together, Blacks and Latinos account for approximately 53% of the city’s total population; however, they account for 76% of new HIV diagnoses, 83% of new AIDS diagnoses, 77% of persons living with HIV/AIDS, and 83% of HIV-related deaths, as of December 31, 2013, according to the New York City Health Department. The New York State Department of Health released data indicating that in 2013, Blacks and Latinos comprised 85% of new HIV diagnoses among 12 – 24 year olds and 91% of new AIDS diagnoses in New York City, data which highlight the extent of the devastating HIV/AIDS crisis affecting communities of color.
The “What’s Your Sign? Mural Project” is the brainchild of art curators Jeff Beler and Frankie Velez. Mr. Beler, a resident of Prospect Heights, has been living with HIV for 30 years. He is a graduate of the Alpha Workshops Studio School founded in 1995 to provide industry-specific training and employment in the decorative arts to men and women living with HIV. He has over 25 years of experience as an interior designer, prop stylist and photographer of graffiti. Mr. Velez is a prominent independent art curator who divides his professional time between New York and Miami. His diverse roster includes artists who are established, mid-career, and emerging. The talented and dedicated street artists lending their talent to the project include Jeff Henriquez, UR New York (Ski and 2ESAE), Misfit and Stray (Justin Winslow and Carmelo Ferro), Fumero, Sienide, Raquel Echanique, Jill Folino, Albertus Joseph, Miss Zukie, Rob Plater, Zimad, Badder Israel, Col Wallnuts, and Danielle Mastrion.
Founded in 1992 and headquartered in New York City, Love Heals’ mission is to “Eliminate new infections through education in communities vulnerable to HIV transmission.” Over the course of the Love Heals’ rich 23-year history, over 650,000 youth residing in hard-hit communities across the New York City metropolitan area have been reached through the organization’s after-school HIV prevention education and leadership development training. Similar training is also offered to parents, guardians, community groups and other youth allies. Recently, the organization was cited as an official not-for-profit vendor of the NYC Department of Education, which allows Love Heals to identify additional public, private and charter schools in which to replicate its youth empowerment training and HIV prevention presentations. For further information, please visit our Web site at www.loveheals.org.
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