One of the traditions we’ve created at home is to create a vision board for the New Year. The basic starting point is a piece of cardboard. Yea, this is old school vision. boarding. And for this upcoming year, I present 2023.
I won’t expound on this. I simply share it with the Universe.
Vision Board 201 – An Infographic
The last couple of years, I’ve taken things to the next level in terms of a Personal Vision for the year.
Last year I chose 5 words for my year. They were “Be, Feel, Create, Learn, Grow.”
I had a flyer on my studio door and in my studio.
This year, I lifted the constraint and came up with my words for the year. They apply across all parts of me as a human being, a small business owner, an artist, an activist. It’s wholistic motivation for person-centric, trauma-informed living. That and $5 will get you a cup of coffee.
This year, I created an infographic. It will go on my studio door and in my studio.
Having said that, my keyword for the year is Worth and my Why is Joy.
I created this infographic to motivate the troops (aka voices in my head) and keep my lean organization of one aligned.
My community focus continues to be on reducing stigma through my artivism. This includes my efforts linked to Celebrate UU, HIV Modernization Movement – Indiana, and community health, especially HIV & mental health. I’ll continue to blog here and through Professor Peacock.
For my business focus, I continue to use a 70/20/10 model to set priorities for the year. My keyword of Worth translates into focusing back on running a profitable business – something from which I stepped away the last 2 years due to my mental health & a subsequent artistic sabbatical…and a slowing coming back-tical.
Here we are, a new year with a Profit First mindset. Yes, I’ll read that book this year. Q1 even. Goal set.
My main studio focus with C Todd Creations this year will be headshots, although I’ll continue to freelance & do event photography when requested. I’ll also grow my speciality studio for dudeoir photography over at C Todd Dudeoir.
With the new service, I reimagined by own crisis situation back in 2009. What if I had been able to call 988 instead of 911?
Chances are they wouldn’t have sent the police, because I had called in an overdose and failed suicide attempt. What I needed was help. What I got was help – and an arrest 90 days later, just as I was just finishing my extended treatment at Fairbanks. With that arrest, my 19-year corporate career ended in me being fired. I lost my house. I was awarded and lost a plea bargain that could have reduced the charges to a misdemeanor. But early recovery was difficult messy and I failed a required drug test. Until recently, I had two felony charges on my record stemming back to that phone call.
I don’t sit in this awareness and wallow in self-pity. I’m glad with where my life is today. I’ve since been able to expunge my felony arrest record, which means I don’t have any more barriers to getting housing or employment. I can’t travel to Canada though – or at least I don’t think I can based on what I’ve read.
In general and thankfully, I’ve been able to land on my feet. I am self-employed, thriving as an artist and photographer, and have stable housing & transportation.
Even though I’ve suffered great losses and pain, I’m grateful to be thriving in my 50’s as an artist.
But it does demonstrate why this new 988 matters. How many lives can be salvaged, not torn apart by piling legal consequences on top of someone in crisis?
That could have been me…
It’s like the joke about what happens when you play a country & western song backwards?
You get your spouse back, your job back, you stop drinking.
Quite literally, I could have gotten the help to stop my using WITHOUT an arrest. In the long term of recovery, that would have been pretty useful.
Call or Text 988 if in crisis
So next time you or someone you know is in crisis, consider calling or texting 988 instead of involving the police via 911.
More about 988: NAMI’s Committment
NAMI is committed to advancing efforts to reimagine crisis response in our country. We believe that every person in crisis, and their families, should receive a humane response that treats them with dignity and connects them to appropriate and timely care. NAMI is calling for a standard of care for crisis services in every community that includes — 24/7 call centers that answer 988 calls locally, mobile crisis teams and crisis stabilization programs — that end the revolving door of ER visits, arrests, incarceration and homelessness.
When I was approached to create art for a recent Spirit & Place event around HIV criminalization and stigma, I was scared to death. How could I convey something meaningful through photography? I literally thought – I’ll have nothing. I can’t do this. Why did I agree to this?
I struggled in fear for several weeks, which I’ve learned is part of my process. Sans the fear, it’s actually a great way to percolate ideas and let them grow. I’ve also learned the best way to dispel fear is to act. So one day, I sat down and started to create some prototypes in Photoshop. It worked! I suddenly had several ideas I loved that really spoke to how I was feeling.
I’ve used the term “artivist” in my signature line for awhile. I picked up this term working on CelebrateUU. Since the initial rush of creation in 2019/2020, I hadn’t really done much work on artivism apart from social media. So I dove head first into creating pieces that used photography & art to address the topic of HIV criminalization.
How does it make you feel?
“How does an image make you feel?” This is the question that is always in the back of my mind as I create digital art from photographs. This questioning is also a form of art therapy, helping me to reclaim the shame & stigma I experience in life through digital art.
There is so much fear living with HIV. It’s kind of on “slow repeat” in the background of my life.
Fear of disclosure.
Fear of sex.
Fear of not being loved.
These are by far the top 3.
From that, came my first piece. Fear of…
Looking for something positive
Pun aside, I wanted to show more than fear or shame based art. I wanted to use this experience to bring healing, reclaiming the shame and stigma I experience living with HIV.
It was easy to identify with the stigma and fear created by our HIV criminal laws. wanted to go beyond that to rescript the negative messaging around HIV criminalization.
I reflected on “what will it feel like when these laws are modernized?” Immediately, I thought of joy. And when I feel joy – I love to dance. From there flowed my central piece of the exhibit, Happy Dance
Expand my skills, sharpen my tools
With artivism, words and graphic design are an important element of the creative process. I had seen a great example of images and text in a marketing banner for a local university. Students faces were used to mark out text in a cutout form. It was really cool. And I had almost no idea how to do it in Photoshop.
So this gave me an opportunity to sharpen my tools, and expand my skills in Photoshop. Most of the tutorials I found were for text cutouts based on a single image. I had multiple images, which needed to be moved around to align with the text. It was more complicated than the marketing banner. But each time I reworked it, I found a smarter way to do things. Would started out as a manual process, requiring lots of rework if I tweaked the design turned into a pretty slick smart object that allowed me to move the images around to show up best under the text.
I used this technique in the next two pieces – HINAC Warriors and 1 Every 14 Days.
1 Every 14 Days
Every 14 days in Indiana, someone in Indiana has court contact under outdated laws that unfairly criminalize people living with HIV or viral hepatitis. Nobody should ever be arrested because of a health condition.
“There is a movement in the U.S. to modernize HIV-specific criminal laws to bring them in line with current medical sciences and best criminal justice practices. …Experts argue that law reform is needed to effectively end the HIV epidemic.” – HIV Criminalization in Indiana Law Enforcement Research; Authors: Foote, Cisneros & Sears; 2022.
I have seen how setting any intention can bring about the very outcome we desire, even when things are outside of our control.
We’ve gotten a fair bit of decent news coverage this past year with HIV modernization in Indiana. I wanted to use these to tell part of the story. At one point, they were going to be part of Happy Dance, to somehow convey the moment when we were successful in changing that laws. In the end, I found they stood on their own – and were a way to set an intention for our work.
From there came the final piece around HIV Criminalization, November 2022 Future State: Will Life Imitate Art?
I wanted to bring in U=U to the conversation, because our HIV criminal laws are based on 30 year old science. Since 2016, we know that when modern treatments reduce HIV to undetectable levels, it can’t be sexually transmitted. That’s also known as U=U – undetectable equals untransmittable. That’s huge.
If I my viral load is undetectable – which it is – why should I even have to disclose, because there is no risk of transmission?
CelebrateUU builds on the concept of Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U), calling on individuals living with HIV to start recognizing and celebrating our anniversaries of having an undetectable viral load. With this movement, we are putting a face and story to HIV and educating people about the science behind U=U. This is one powerful way to help end the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
I started CelebrateUU with 3 other individuals in 2019 & 2020. I had shared their stories on my CelebrateUU page, but had never shown them in a gallery setting. I’ve learned that every art pieces changes me, and that becomes even more true when I print them out. There’s something tangible and real to the story.
I also reached out to two friends who work in the HIV modernization space here in Indiana to include them as two new stories. Their faces & voices were premiered at Spirit and Place.
Through an art exhibit and panel discussion, learn how people living with HIV and their allies are working to end HIV stigma by modernizing Indiana’s outdated HIV criminal laws.
People living with HIV often face stigma and discrimination related to Indiana laws that criminalize them due to their positive HIV status. This event features speakers living with HIV who are working to end HIV criminalization through legislative change, activism, art, and community support.
A visual art show featuring Indy-based artist Contonnia Turner, Jr. and photographer/digital artist Todd Fuqua will provide a backdrop for the discussion. Contonnia Turner, Jr. is a talented young Black Hoosier with multiple layers of intersecting identity who creates artwork that reflects who he is physically, mentally, and spiritually. Todd Fuqua is an Indianapolis-based artivist (activism through art) who started a social movement called CelebrateUU, building on the concept of HIV Undetectable=Untransmittable (U=U).