Aces, Chicago, IL

How tough can it be to hype up some art, hang up some frames, and celebrate with some comadres from the block? To celebrate National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day, I wanted to bridge together some poz artists and our immigrant community members here in Chicago with an art gallery community event. The goal: highlight the life and works of artists producing thought-provoking works, delivering some HIV-related information in spanish, and having these two happen at the same time. 

Cuando les digo that I had a solid reality check. I think back and reflect on how on so many what if’s. Like what if I had a solid budget with big sponsors? Like what if I had a bigger local team behind this project? Like what if I started doing promo way ahead of time? Even though there was room to change the outcomes I’m still super proud of the process and the humble look at Chicago blocks and neighborhoods.

I’m talking humble on the work it takes to put it all together, build traction with families to get them to spark interest, funding the possibility to have food and ship the works of artists outside of the city, and the love I had from day one of this vision. I didn’t get to frame up the work of poz artists but I got to visit and share love for the arts with different people. I didn’t meet my personal goal of turnout numbers but this gave me the challenge to get this info and art combo out to the community I haven’t met yet. With the help of the folks and friends that attended, the first number of pages have already been sketched. Get ready for this zine to drop real soon!

I’m a believer in that with “failures” you can take big wins. I gained a powerful femtors, Lisa Isadora Cruz and Stacy Epps, in this journey and witnessing the need for projects like this. I’m honored to have met such ncredible mujeres that lead so much advocacy after many years and are still pushing to keep necessary changes coming. To have them believe in my vision is so validating and confirms so much of what I felt was missing. The fact that so much gets lost in translation especially with topics like HIV/AIDS. I know that art can be a common language but sometimes abstract and locked away in museums but cultural change is possible when we make health information and art accessible. 

J Aces Lira

He/Him/His

Chicago, IL

Gran Varones Fellow

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