WADA 2016: Living With — Artist Open Call

living-with-emilyArtist Request for Proposals


The Equality Foundation of Georgia and our community partners invite visual and performance artists (or groups of artists) to submit concepts for Living With, a World AIDS Day-Atlanta experience exhibit taking place November 30 & December 1, 2016 at Gallery 874 in Atlanta.

Living With will showcase a series of 12-foot cubic, four-dimensional art installations (“Living Spaces”) that portray the complex lives of real people living with HIV (HIV+ people), wherein HIV is just one part of a larger, infinitely complex life story.

Successful applicants will be matched with a person living with HIV in Metro Atlanta who will share their life story and advise as needed while artists work on their Living Space designs.

Online Application & Deadline

Apply online at here by October 3, 2016 5:00pm.


This RFP is open to ALL professional and amateur artists residing in Metropolitan Atlanta who meet the following qualifications:

  • Ability to design, fabricate, install and oversee the installation of commissioned work to be exhibited on Wednesday November 30, 2016 from 10am to 5pm and Thursday, December 1, 2016 from 4pm to 10pm.
  • Commitment to sitting down with a person living with HIV and sensitively depicting their life story without perpetuating stigma, fear, marginalization based on race, ethnicity national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, history of incarceration, etc.

Artists who are living with HIV (HIV positive), affected by HIV or who are members of communities that have been disproportionately impacted HIV are encouraged to apply.

Artist Stipend

Each participating artist (or group) will receive a $500 materials stipend. Artists are encouraged to use reclaimed, borrowed or recycled materials and may keep the remaining stipend, no questions asked.

Artists may also choose to donate the $500 to an HIV-related non-profit organization selected by the person living with HIV that they are working with.


About the Exhibit




This exhibit, Living With, is a contemporary take on the AIDS Memorial Quilt- a massive, global community folk art project that encourages the family and friends of HIV+ people who have died to create memorial quilt panels in their honor. While memorial quilt panels are created after death, the spaces inLiving With should celebrate that their subjects are moving through the middle of their lives. Living With spaces should be dynamic, moving installations that visually and temporally show that living with HIV is possible and that the essential beauty of the human person is the living context of this (or any) virus.

Living With seeks to challenge popular opposition to talking openly about HIV by showcasing the lives of those who are unapologetically living (and often thriving) with HIV. To provide historical context, contrast, and to honor those who have passed, we will also showcase AIDS Memorial Quilt blocks.

Proceeds from Living With events will fuel Georgia Equality’s HIV advocacy programming in 2017. Our staff works on the frontlines to address root causes of HIV by educating and encouraging policymakers and community leaders to leverage their power to end AIDS once and for all. This year alone, our Youth HIV Policy Advisors Program matched 25 HIV+ youth with elected officials to educate them about life with HIV, and our Georgia HIV Advocacy Network hosted the largest HIV advocacy day in our state capitol’s history. We monitor and analyze federal, state and local HIV-related policy, communicate with advocates and train people living with HIV to use their voices for sustainable change.

Guiding Principles

Activist artists taught us that silence = death, and this is still true of today’s AIDS epidemic. Life-saving biomedical technology makes living with HIV possible, but people are still dying in silence because of stigma. We invite you to share our vision of a world in which artists speak loudly about HIV again and where art saves us all from the deadly epidemic of silence. 53,000 Georgians are living with HIV, but we are all infected by stigma.

These guiding principles should inform your concept:

Life first, HIV second.

The life story of someone living with HIV is complex in and of itself. In public narratives of people living with HIV, the part about HIV is often centralized for the sake of shock (or simplicity) at the expense of humanizing details. This is at least partly because these stories are used as tools for HIV prevention education. This exhibit should challenge the idea that people living with HIV should serve as conduits of prevention education. Successful proposals should disrupt popular conversations about the role HIV plays in a person’s whole life course. Installations should demonstrate how HIV is woven into the complex life of a complex person, and why the environment in which people exist (the South, Georgia, Capitalism, polarized political climate, racial tension, etc.) contributes to the perpetuity of plagues.

Think Beyond Behavior.

This is not an exhibit to educate the public about HIV “risk behaviors.” While HIV is commonly understood through the lens of preventable risk behaviors (like sex, IV drug use, etc.) we want to deconstruct this perspective and help our communities think beyond individual risk behaviors to the “root causes” of the epidemic’s persistence in our region. For example, sex without a condom isn’t just an individual choice not to use a condom. It might be the result of lack of access to condoms or information about condoms, it may be the result of laws limiting teens access to condoms or information about safe sex, or religious and cultural traditions banning their use.

Challenge Stigma.

HIV stigma is a deadly combination of sex shaming, panic about illness and death, and fear and hatred of groups who are “othered” by mainstream society: people of color, LGBTQQIA people, women, people who use drugs, sex workers, etc. Successful proposals will disrupt stigmatizing, fear-mongering, and “othering” messages that have dominated our response to the HIV epidemic. Likewise proposals that contain stigmatizing language or takeaway messages will be vetoed.

Be accurate.

Everyone is at risk for HIV, but studies show that despite very similar levels of risk behaviors, some people are more likely to contract HIV than others. Historically, the language of HIV contains numerous tropes that divide and confuse the public about who is at risk and who is to blame for HIV.  If you use this installation to educate or share information (in the form of data or statements of truth), you must cite sources of information. For example: About 53,000 people are living with HIV in Georgia (Source: Georgia Department of Public Health, 2014). Artists are encouraged to use this kind of information sparingly, as data often creates an over-simplified story about HIV. We encourage artists to be inspired by troubling statistics to deconstruct common narratives around HIV that do not help us get to the root of the problem.

Nothing about us without us.

All of the funding and infrastructure we have for HIV prevention and care in the United States today exists because people living with HIV fought with lawmakers for resources to save their own lives. Back in the early days, this meant that congress created funding mechanisms to pay for HIV care, medication, prevention and research. Activists demanded that people living with HIV be meaningfully involved in all decisions made on their behalf. Successful proposals will underscore the importance of centering the experiences of people living with HIV in policy change, and include a plan for involving the HIV+ storyteller in the installation.

Exhibit Goals

  • To re-center Metro Atlanta’s public discourse about HIV around the lives of people living with HIV.
  • To fight HIV stigma through opening a line of communication with communities throughout the region.
  • To engage artists of multiple backgrounds to help us make HIV relevant to larger narratives and themes in Metro Atlanta.
  • To contrast the two-dimensional AIDS Memorial Quilt panels with dynamic, 4-dimensional spaces (life) to usher in a conversation among attendees aboutliving with HIV.
  • To take the focus off of behavior-based discussions on HIV prevention and instigate critical thinking about the effects of stigma and silence around issues that address “root causes” of HIV: homelessness, poverty, racism, sexuality, inequality and the marginalization of those most affected.

Process & Timelines


Stage One: Online Application

After reviewing this Request for Proposals, interested artists or artist groups must complete the online application here. This includes a Statement of Interest (approximately 500 words).

Stage Two: Selection and Artist/Subject Match-Up Meeting

An Advisory Committee consisting of local artists, people living with HIV/AIDS and other community representatives will review online applications and rank them according to the guiding principles and strength of concept. The 8 applicants with the highest rankings will be notified and invited to an in-person (with conference call capacity) Q & A session (scheduled for October 17 at 7pm). At this meeting, artists will be given more information, questions will be answered and matches will be made between artists and subjects.

Stage Three: Creation!           

Artists will make plans to meet with their assigned subjects and create an installation plan for the space. Artists will submit a sketch plan of their space and two-page overview of the installation for the selection committee’s review by November 1, 2016.

The World AIDS Day-Atlanta Living With Exhibit will run two days: November 30th, 2016 and December 1, 2016 (World AIDS Day) and culminate with an evening event on December 1 that is also a fundraiser for Equality Foundation of Georgia’s HIV advocacy activities.

Project Schedule

(Subject to change with ample notice):

  • Friday, September 23, 2016 3pm to 4:30pm: Pre-submission informational Conference Call for all interested artists. Call-in information is (641) 715-3580 Passcode: 167547
  • Monday, October 3, 2016 at 5:00pm: Online Application Deadline:
  • Friday, October 14, 2016: Advisory Committee Chair will notify 8 highest-ranking artists that they have been selected.
  • Monday, October 17, 2016 5pm-7pm: Mandatory informational meeting for selected artists and subjects. 8 artist groups will be matched with 8 people living with HIV to build their designs.
  • November 1, 2016 5pm: Final plans for installments must be submitted to committee. Artist stipends paid at this time.
  • November 29, 2016 (various times, TBD): Living With load-in.
  • November 30, 2016 and December 1, 2016: World AIDS Day-Atlanta Living With exhibit dates:
  • December 2, 2016: Living With load-out
  • 2017: There is also potential for selected installations to be shown at various locations around Atlanta during our HIV advocacy week in February, 2017 (dates tentatively in third week of February) and for National HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (April 10, 2017).

Questions? Please contact Emily Halden Brown, World AIDS Day-Atlanta Program Manager at email hidden; JavaScript is required or 404-523-3070 ext. 3 (email preferred for fastest response time.)