Luna Luis Ortiz: Fire Island Artist Residency Lecture Series
Cherry Grove Community House
Visual AIDS partnered with the Fire Island Artist Residency (FIAR) for an artist talk by photographer and activist Luna Luis Ortiz, who presented his work in conversation with Visual AIDS Programs Director Alex Fialho. The Visual AIDS / FIAR lecture series brought Visual AIDS Artist+ Members who are leading figures in contemporary art to share their experience with the Fire Island community and the Fire Island residency artists at the Cherry Grove Community House through a partnership with the Arts Project of Cherry Grove.
Luna Luis Ortiz was born in New York City in 1972. In 1986, he was infected with HIV at the age of 14 from his first sexual experience. Thereafter he picked up one of his father’s cameras and started taking self-portraits as a way to leave images for the family as a remembrance and before he became the images of AIDS of the 1980’s. In 1988, he began his journey as an HIV awareness spokesperson for youth living with HIV at at the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and has continued this work for three decades.
In the late 1980s, Luna became part of New York’s ballroom voguing scene and the club kids scene where his creativity for the arts flourished, especially as a photographer. He then studied photography at the School of Visual Arts and has worked with the photographers David LaChapelle, Lisa Ross, Shedrich Williams and Nan Goldin. Luna’s art has been included in exhibitions at the Boston Center of the Arts, Whitney Museum and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, among many others. Most recently, in 2017, his photographs were exhibited in Daniel Cooney Fine Art’s exhibition Magic Mirror and in the Museum of the City of New York’s AIDS At Home: Art & Everyday Activism.
Luna joined the Visual AIDS Artist+ Registry for HIV+ artists in 1995. 20 years later, at the 10th Annual Visual AIDS Vanguard Awards in 2015, Luna received The William Orlander VAVA Voom Award, alongside Jim Hodges and Julie Ault. His artwork is frequently featured in Visual AIDS projects, including the 2016 Day With(out) Art COMPULSIVE PRACTICE and the exhibition Everyday.
Over the years, Luna has dedicated his life to HIV prevention and AIDS awareness. Today, Luna continues to inspire and empower youth of color around the world with his story of survival with living with HIV for 30 years. His passion as a father of the House of Khan (whose members compete in the voguing competitions at the balls) gives him the opportunity to continue to guide and support young people from the LGBT experience with love, compassion and care. He is one of the co-founders of the House of Frame by Frame Fierce; a project that teaches animation filmmaking to high risk youth as a form of activism. In 2007, Luna elevated his dedication to HIV prevention and youth work at Gay Men Health Crisis (GMHC), where he works tirelessly on the agency’s social marketing campaigns as well as host youth workshops, conferences and health fairs for over 300 youth of color monthly. He also plans and gathers a committee of House and Ball members for the annual Latex Ball, which draws a crowd of over 2,500 participants from around the world.
Luna hosts The Luna Show on www.youtube.com/TheLunaShowNY that celebrates and preserves the ballroom history of the Latino and Black LGBT experience as well as HIV awareness. The Luna Show is a show about the voguing scene and the people involved in the House/Ball community, one of the hardest hit communities by the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Luna Show has been viewed by 2 million people worldwide.
Luna has received letters of appreciation from New York City Mayors Edward Koch and David Dinkins as well as the Distinguished Service Award from the State of New York. In 2015, Luna received The City of New York Proclamation from The City Council at City Hall for his 30 years of dedication in the fight against AIDS. HIV Plus magazines 20 Amazing HIV Positive Gay Men in 2014 as well as POZ magazine’s POZ 100 list of HIV/AIDS Celebrating Long Term Survivors also honored him in 2015.
The Fire Island Artist Residency is an organization founded in 2011 which brings lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identifying emerging artists to Fire Island, a place long-steeped in LGBTQ history, to create, commune, and contribute to the location's rich artistic history. FIAR provides free live/work space to five selected artist residents who work, research, relax, and immerse themselves in the Fire Island community, during which time they are visited by a handful of renowned visiting artists, curators, and art professionals who commune with residents through intimate visits, dinners, and discussions, providing support and feedback. The greater Fire Island community, and visitors from New York and Long Island, are invited to attend free public lectures by these esteemed guests of FIAR throughout the duration of the program. In this way, FIAR hopes to bring both new creative perspectives and prestigious art professionals together in this extraordinary location to foster the creation—and preservation—of queer art-making in contemporary art.