Dear Visual AIDS Community:

We are beyond excited to announce that Visual AIDS is an awardee of the Andrew W. Mellon Community-based Archives Grant 2020-22 for $100,000 to support us with expanding the Artist+ Registry's collection development, further digitization of the physical Archive Project, and creation of "The Body as an Archive” oral history project series with our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) artist members and long-term survivors living with HIV and AIDS. This expansive archival work will take place from January 2021 until December 2022.

With funding support from the Mellon Foundation, we are happily seeking candidates for two new project-based archive positions — Project Archivist and Paid Archive Engagement intern — to support us with this ongoing work. The deadline to apply is Thursday, February 25. Please share with your communities and read more below for job application details.


Our Archive Project was founded in 1994 at the height of the AIDS crisis as a community led archive to document the work of HIV+ artists and convey the ongoing and multifaceted impact of the epidemic. The work of collecting materials was organized by a community of artists affected by HIV in New York, along with their friends, caretakers, and families. Today, we continue this legacy by working with estates to share these memories and by directly engaging with artists living with HIV to preserve their stories on their own terms, via the materials they share, and what they believe is important to collect. We consider the continued urgency of HIV as we steward materials that are not traditionally collected by dominant or mainstream institutions.

“The Body As an Archive” Oral History Series Project

The title “The Body as an Archive” was coined by Katherine Cheairs in the summer of 2020 during one of our Archive Committee meeting sessions held to address the Archive Project’s collection gaps around preserving non-traditional archival memories with underrepresented BIPOC and long-term survivor artist members. We recognize that cultural legacies of communities most affected by AIDS are particularly vulnerable, not only because of the systemic racism and classism of the art world, but also because these legacies are often embodied in oral traditions, community spaces, performance, and other non-material forms. In order to address the gaps in our collection, we have decided to expand our current collecting paradigm, which centers on photo documentation of physical artworks, to also preserve oral histories.

The Archive Committee

We are very grateful for our supportive Archive Committee members — Katherine Cheairs, Shane Aslan Selzer, Ursula Davila, Caitlin McCarthy, Cherry Montejo, Sur Rodney (Sur), Anthony Rosado, and J. Soto — who have generously shared their ongoing archival expertise with us to address the development of the Archive Project and new "The Body as an Archive" oral history project series. The Archive Committee has provided extensive and tremendous support around collection management and development; digital accessibility initiatives in disability communities; artist as archivist frameworks; and innovative, experimental approaches in supporting community-based archives to support the expansion and global reach of the Archive Project and Artist+ Registry at Visual AIDS. The Archive Committee was organized in January 2020 by Tracy Fenix, Artist Engagement & Archive Manager and is co-facilitated with support from Kyle Croft, Programs Director.

Documentary Heritage & Preservation Services of New York

Moreover, in the summer and fall of 2020, we completed an Archival-Needs Assessment with the Documentary Heritage & Preservation Services of New York. DHPSNY thoroughly examined the Visual AIDS Archive Project & Artist+ Registry program, identifying and addressing specific organizational needs, collection management policies, digital preservation strategies, and long-term archival strategic planning initiatives. The Archival-Needs Assessment allowed us to strategically prepare for a successful application to Andrew W. Mellon's Community-based Archive Grant.

Open Call for Archive Grant-funded Positions

Below are two Mellon grant short-term, project-based funded positions — Project Archivist and Archive Engagement intern — to support us with our collection expansion and digitization initiatives, as well as support us with our new oral history project series, “The Body as an Archive” with BIPOC and long-term survivor artist members. We encourage you to share this with your respective communities and/or apply to these positions. Trans and gender non-conforming / LBGTQIA and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are strongly encouraged to apply! Deadline to apply is Thursday, February 25 at midnight EST! Read more below for job application details.

Expressing Gratitude to our Visual AIDS Community!

We’re beyond grateful to all of our Visual AIDS artist members and artists’ estates for their generous trust, vulnerability and openness to share their artwork and archives with us housed both online in the Artist+ Registry & physical Archive Project. We couldn’t do anything without your support in this collective, collaborative process of preserving legacies of artists living with HIV and those lost due to AIDS-related complications.

We're enthusiastically eager, inspired, and committed to kick off this new archival phase of expansion with our devoted community of artist members, activists and thoughtful community partners in the coming year!