featured gallery for February 2016

My Sisters' Keeper

Sisterhood is defined simply as “the close relationship among women based on shared experiences, concerns, etc” but the truth is, that there is nothing simple about sisterhood.

In today’s world inundated by social media and the ever-increasing sense of self importance and individualism that the anonymity of cyber space affords us, all too often we treat each other with anything but sisterly love, respect, affection or kindness.

This loss of “Sisterhood” is seen not just on social media, or in cyber space, but more often in our daily lives and culture, as artists’ lyrics and everyday jargon seem to have made it common place for us to refer to women and each other as “bitches”, “hoes”, “sluts” and a slew of other derogatory and degrading names that eat away at the very fabric of who we are as phenomenal women, the givers of life.

It has become far too commonplace for us to tear each other down in our quest for our own success or for our relationships. It has become far too rare for us to help build each other up, support and encourage each other and hold each other close through the storms of life and of living.

It is especially distressing to me, to see how often those of us fortunate enough to be called to a life of service as HIV advocates and activists (whether by accident or design), callously and with disregard tear down rather than build up our very own positive sisters. How easily we allow the false lure of “power and recognition” for our individual personages, to cause us to stray from the greater goal of our work, to use our talents to give voice, dignity, respect and value to the voiceless, powerless, faceless, millions of people living with HIV. We lose sight of the opportunities to mentor young girls and women, to create the next generation of strong female leaders, to make the paths to be travelled by those following us less onerous.

In thinking about a theme for this year’s LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN online exhibition, I dug deep down into myself for something that would or could resonate with other women. I recalled a past conversation with my best friend of over thirty five years where I was recounting a speech I made many years ago, in which I expressed the notion that much of what we do in this HIV work could be ameliorated if we hadn’t lost that sense of being our Brother’s Keeper.

As I reflected on my own true, deep and lasting friendship with her, as well as the path that I had walked with this disease, I smiled at the thought that we had remained best friends for over thirty-five years. Through puberty, school days, volleyball games, first loves, kids, god children, failed relationships and marriages, new loves, countless adventures of every sort imaginable, people who tried to tear us apart with lies and jealousy, living close together or separated by continents and time zones, snail mail, no mail, email, telephone, no phone, cell phone, Skype, bbm, What’s App and perhaps the greatest test of all, my HIV diagnosis over 23 years ago. Through the laughter, tears, sorrow, joy, loss and gain, our sense of “Sisterhood” has endured and in that moment it struck me, “My Sisters' Keeper” would be my theme.

I selected pieces (from female artists only, sorry guys) that embodied that sense of being there for each other; that embrace and uplift the female spirit and more than anything made me smile and delight in being a woman who knew what it truly was to be on the receiving and giving ends of being “My Sisters’ Keeper.” I encourage you, as you peruse this gallery to reflect on your own actions or lack thereof and make yourself a promise to remember that every sister, everywhere, every day deserves to have someone who has her back, especially as she walks the often tempestuous path of living with HIV. Ask yourself “Was I truly my Sisters’ Keeper today?”

To all the beautiful, talented, wonderful women whose pieces inspired me and helped bring my theme alive, a warm and heartfelt “THANK YOU, You are all exceptional”, and to the incredibly special women in my own life, my mother Joan, my daughter Candace, my sisters Yemi and Celeste and of course my best friend forever Lisa, as well as the countless other women (far too numerous to mention) who have and continue to support me through my journey called Life, this exhibit is dedicated to you all, who in one way or another embody what it means to be “My Sisters' Keeper”, you have and continue to be “This Sister’s Keepers.” I love you all and this "Sister" is forever grateful to you.