we are the people who are darker than blue (art space – new haven, ct)

If your mind could really see
You’d know you’re color the same as me
Pardon me, brother, as you stand in your glory
I know you won’t mind if I tell the whole story

Get yourself together, learn to know your side
Shall we commit our own genocide
Before you check out your mind?

I know we’ve all got problems
That’s why I’m here to say
Keep peace with me and I with you
Let me love in my own way

We people who are darker than blue
Are we gonna stand around this town
And let what others say come true?
We’re just good for nothing they all figure

A boyish, grown up, shiftless jigger
Now we can’t hardly stand for that
Or is that really where it’s at?
We people who are darker than blue

“We Are the People Who Are Darker Than Blue”

Curtis Mayfield                                           1970

In 1998 a physician buddy who was working for the CDC in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire managing a HIV education and treatment project invited me to shoot a photo essay on the work they were doing. We spent time in hospitals, outreach clinics that did hiv testing + treatment, birth control counseling, and with hiv/aids support groups.  Although it was an emotionally exhausting 2 weeks I witnessed a lot of heartfelt support + love amongst the people impacted by the disease. I witnessed 20 people burst into cheers and cry tears of happiness when they were able to establish a phone connection with one of their members of the AIDS support group.   The last place I visited was an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS or whose parents died from AIDS.

One might suspect an AIDs orphanage in an impoverished country to be a depressing place but I have honestly never seen a place so much spirit, hope and optimism. Kids, given the opportunity, will be kids.

(my artist statement for the group show “between beauty + demise” art space new haven, ct.  curated by erin joyce.)

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