In September 1981, the Empty Closet Newspaper reported on new illnesses that were disproportionately affecting gay men in New York City and Los Angeles and noted that doctors in Rochester had been advised to watch for similar cases. The following month, the publication confidently declared “No ‘Gay’ Diseases Here.”
The optimism was premature. Soon patients in Rochester were being sickened by the mysterious new disease that would become known as HIV/AIDS.
Local hospitals and universities attended to medical needs, caring for patients and researching treatments. Meanwhile, community organizations ensured access to care and support by developing innovative approaches to the delivery of health care and social services and launching public information campaigns to educate the public about the virus and combat the stigma that people living with (and, too often, dying from) it faced.
Taking place at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester during the Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster exhibition on view March 6–June 19, 2022, the 2022 Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues will explore Rochester’s response to the AIDS crisis from its beginning in 1981 to the present through both local and global lenses.
Jonathan Binstock, Mary W. and Donald R. Clark Director, Memorial Art Gallery
Christine L. Ridarsky, City Historian and Director of Historical Services, Rochester Public Library
Evelyn Bailey, Historian/Archivist, OutAlliance, and Founder, Shoulders to Stand On
Jackson Davidow, Postdoctoral Fellow, Translating Race Lab, Center for the Humanities, Tufts University
Survivors of HIV/AIDS share their experiences of living with HIV/AIDS. They will discuss their journey dealing with the issues, difficulties and obstacles they encountered
After 37 years of tumultuous living and going In and out of jail, Jo-Z was diagnosed with HIV in 1992. After being released from prison, Jo-Z volunteered with an organization called Step by Step. Today she works with women who are coming home from jail and prison. Jo-Z is responsible for making sure that their mental health needs are met and any other ailments they may have because as we all know they do not get the care they need and deserve during incarceration.
A well known face in the Finger Lakes HIV Community is Ernest Wilson. With an impressive resume, including outreach and later care management roles at Huther Doyle, work with Action Front Center’s Criminal Justice initiative and as a Healthy Relationships facilitator, peer education with Trillium Health and currently a Peer Navigator at Anthony Jordan Health Center, Ernest has a dedication to and passion for ensuring the services available in our area are the best available. Ernest has also shared his personal story as a spokes model with the HIV Stops with Me campaign and was nominated by his peers and selected for POZ Magazine’s 6th Annual POZ100 celebrating long-term survivors.
Zena Chambers’ involvement in the Rochester HIV Community spans over 2 decades, during which she has openly and honestly shared her personal story to help others. She was active in the HEART Program in the early days and years later facilitated Positively Alive, an HIV+ women’s support group originating with that program, at Trillium Health where she worked with their Women’s Prevention Program. Zena is active in the Rochester Area Task Force on AIDS and has participated in numerous community collaborative, organizational and advocacy efforts. Zena is still called upon regularly to speak at faith-based and educational events and continues to be an inspiration to her peers.
Jessica Lacher-Feldman, Exhibitions and Special Projects Manager and Curator of the AIDS Poster Collection, University of Rochester Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
Donald Albrecht, Curator, Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster exhibition
Pre-register for a guided tour, visit the gallery on your own, or view a curated series of short films about HIV/AIDS
Join Shoulders to Stand On and the Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues Planning Committee to honor some of the individuals and community organizations that responded to the HIV/AIDS crisis by providing treatment and support for those who have been affected.
Free admission to the Memorial Art Gallery for Rainbow Dialogue attendees made possible in part by the LGBT+ Fund for Greater Rochester at Rochester Area Community Foundation.
Jackson Davidow is an art historian, writer, researcher, and educator whose work examines the relationship between art, health, and politics. He earned his Ph.D. in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Art and Architecture from MIT and is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Translating Race Lab at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University. His keynote address will draw upon research for his dissertation and forthcoming book, Viral Visions: Art, Activism, and Epidemiology in the Global AIDS Pandemic.
The Anthony Mascioli Rainbow Dialogues will take place at the Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Ave., during the Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster exhibition, on view March 6–June 19, 2022.