Like working with a team?

Curious about the role art can play in creating social change?

Good at Photoshop and copyediting?

Logistically minded?

Consider interning at Visual AIDS

We are looking for short term and long term interns or volunteers to work in our Chelsea office in Spring and Summer 2016.


We had an incredible group of five summer interns in 2016. Read their intern reflections below!

Tara Sacerdote

I’m an art history student at Smith College and in my junior year. I’m on the board of VOX: Voices for Choice, the reproductive justice organization at Smith and as summer approached, I was thinking really hard about how I could possibly bring together my two big interests – art and reproductive justice. I was discussing this with my friend Shanice and she told me about this really cool New York-based nonprofit that uses art as a tool to promote HIV/AIDS advocacy. I was like, “what??? My things!! All in one!” I emailed the brilliant and kind Esther McGowan and she told me that of course I was welcome for a summer internship with Visual AIDS.

I spent three months with VA and my favorite part was the huge variety of amazing and interesting people I was able to meet. Nelson, Esther, and Alex are three of the smartest and most compassionate people I’ve ever met and it was truly an honor to learn from them this summer. My fellow interns, Shanice (from before!!), Kyle, Asher, and Zooey are all so hardworking and fun, coming from all over and approaching the topic of HIV and art from all different angles. I loved meeting artist members and hearing their stories, whether as part of a wonderful public program or while hanging around the office. It is so special to see how much love there is between an organization and the folks it exists for and Fred Weston’s double hug quickly became something I looked forward to.

It makes me so proud to have worked with Visual AIDS. It’s the only organization I know of so adamantly dedicating itself not only to public education but also to helping artists living with HIV to keep making art. That literally changes lives. I was fortunate enough to see these tangible impacts over the past three months. Visual AIDS really gives me hope and I can’t wait to see how it evolves and continues to build in the future. I'm already scheming ways to come back.

June Lei

Friday mornings: after rising the wide avenues of Chelsea in the summer, I would enter the familiar clutter of the Visual AIDS office to air conditioning, stacks of tote bags, bulk boxes of female condoms, Alex, Esther, Nelson, and of course, Nelson’s cat-like dog, Sweetie.

I first encountered Visual AIDS as a student at the NYC Lab High School on 17th street, where I led an art club and created a program with Ted Kerr for the school’s annual AIDS Day. I didn’t know that high school would not be the last time I got to be involved with Visual AIDS’ dynamic programming, and I am glad that it wasn’t. I am fortunate to have spent my summer as a Visual AIDS intern: thus, running around the city, archiving digitized artwork, and happily meeting all of the artists and visitors who would swoop into the office, banging open the door to announce their arrival. Within these experiences I found the delight of community, a fierce sense of commitment to a cause, and deep inspiration for the unrelenting and unwavering support Visual AIDS provides to their artists.

Now, I’ve returned to college in Maine, where I am a junior at Bowdoin College. Although it is about three hundred miles from Chelsea, it does not seem that far: my summer at Visual AIDS shines, especially as I think about my work supporting artists, writing about contemporary art, and creating engaging programs. I look forward to staying in conversation with Visual AIDS, as their work is as important now as it has ever been.

Shanice Bailey

I’m a senior American studies major and Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow at Smith College. My work focuses on queer studies, cultural studies, and new media, so The Artist+ Registry & Archive Project have been invaluable to my research. I attended the closing event for “Party out of Bounds: Nightlife as Activism Since 1980” last fall, and the brilliance and sense of community I observed there motivated me to apply for an internship.

I dawdled for a long time, intimidated by the idea of getting to work for an organization I’d admired for so long. When I finally applied, Esther emailed me back the very next day saying they’d love to have me. I was over the moon (obviously), and when my friend Tara told me she was looking for an internship as well I immediately encouraged her to apply. Esther eagerly welcomed the both of us, setting the wheels in motion for one of the best summers I’ve had so far.

I didn’t start until mid-June, so I had plenty of time to psych myself out. I’d never been to the office before and I somehow convinced myself that some sort of Devil Wears Prada-esque situation awaited me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the West Chelsea Building to find Nelson, Esther, Alex (and Sweetie!) in the little office that would soon become like a second home to me. I couldn’t believe that such a small team was behind everything Visual AIDS does, and this summer I got to witness firsthand how dedicated and hardworking they are -- there were many times when everyone would work a full day and go straight to a program in the evening. I’m still amazed by how much they do.

There was never a moment when I was made to feel like "just the intern.” My work was taken seriously and the input we provided was considered with just as much as weight as the full time employees’. Working at a small organization allowed me to have my hands in as many pots as I desired: I wrote press releases, updated the archive, and helped with Artist Grant applications, among other things — one morning was spent folding fortune tellers for an event with Ted Kerr’s HIV doula collective, and another doing research for DUETS. One of my favorite memories from the summer was Fred Weston walking into the office to find Tara and I on our hands and knees, power drill in hand, trying to figure out how to put a printer cart together.

At the risk of sounding cliché, Visual AIDS became like a little family to me in just a few short months. The love and support I got from Esther, Nelson, Alex, and my fellow interns this summer left me feeling prepared to take on my senior year and whatever comes after. Visual AIDS works as well as it does because it’s backed by a strong and vibrant community, and the support we provided as interns was vital to making it all possible. I believe so strongly in Visual AIDS and what they do, and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to volunteer, even if it’s just one day a week. I’m grateful that I got to be part of something so wonderful, and I can’t wait to come back. I can honestly say that Visual AIDS will be part of my life for as long as I’m around.

Zooey Gleaves

I’m a History of Art student from the university of Bristol in the UK. After spending a lot of time channelling my interests into art of the AIDS crisis and contemporary New York art, I decided to contact Alex Fialho about pursuing an internship with Visual Aids. It was an amazing opportunity which I will be eternally grateful for. The Visual Aids team were so kind and interested in all of the interns and were so patient with me in figuring out the office and NYC as a whole! Nelson, Esther and Alex are SO cool and sitting down to lunch with them during afternoons was a great way to ask them questions about everything from NYC nightlife to artist biographies.

As someone who works in nightlife and has a great interest in how it relates to art and artists, Visual AIDS was the perfect place to increase my knowledge on such an important aspect of HIV activism. The other interns were amazing, all so interesting and individual, and every artist member who joined us for lunch or just popped in for a chat were delightful, wise and incredibly charming. I urge anyone with an interest in contemporary art and art involving activism to apply to be a Visual AIDS intern, as you will be surrounded by people who are passionate, creative, highly intelligent and wonderful to work with!

P.S – I miss them all now and when I go back I’ll be going back to 26 th and 10th as soon as I can!

Olivia Plummer

I’m a recent History of Art graduate from the University of Edinburgh. For my final year I wrote my dissertation on “Activism in Art: A Study on Artistic Initiatives During the AIDS Crisis in New York”, and during my research I came across Visual AIDS. I was struck by the incredible work that they do and knew I wanted to get involved somehow. I got in contact with the lovely Alex Fialho, who said I could intern for VA!

I spent one month at Visual AIDS. After spending a year researching HIV/AIDS activism and art for my dissertation, it was incredible to be able to experience firsthand the work Visual AIDS does. From the minute I walked into Room 510 I felt so welcomed. I truly enjoyed every task given, whether it was researching artists or updating the archive and website. One of the highlights was being able to meet so many different people and artist members popping into the office; there was such a huge sense of community, which is something so special about VA. Another highlight during my time at Visual AIDS was their “I Want A President…” workshop, where I was in awe of being surrounded by such creative minds, and also getting to meet one of my heroes Avram Finkelstein (founding member of the Silence=Death collective and Gran Fury!).

I’ve just returned to the UK and I am already missing Visual AIDS so much- I would return in a heartbeat! I seriously urge anyone with an interest to apply for an internship with VA. It truly was the most incredible opportunity and I am so grateful to Alex, Nelson and Esther for having me.