Spirit Journey 2: HIV Crim Artivism at Spirit & Place


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…

Fear Of
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

Happy Dance
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.

HIV Is Not a Crime
HINAC Warriors

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. 

For more information on efforts to modernize Indiana’s outdated criminal and public health laws,go to hivmodernizationmovement.org.

1 Every 14 Days

Manifest destiny – intention in art

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?

November 2022 Future State: Will Life Imitate Art?

#CelebrateUU

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.

HIV Modernization
Ending The Stigma of People Living with HIV

Part of the Spirit & Place Festival

About this event

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).

Artistic Bio


I created a profile for an online photography community. It’s sometimes hard for me to describe where I’ve landed as an artist & human being, here on October 14, 2022. That will change radically, or slowly, or organically, or tragically. More organic, less tragedy please. #NotMyCircus

Here’s what I came up with:

My main studio is C Todd Creations, focused on headshots, performing arts events + digital art rooted in photography. I like to dabble in many things, and stay away from others. I love working with drag performers, dancers & show choirs. I love nature, macro photography and digital creations that start with one or more images of my own. This is my primary professional brand @CToddCreations. Welcome!

My speciality studio is C Todd Dudeoir focused on photography for men + art that is body positive and inclusive. How I see my art in this space evolves with each conversation & understanding. ‘As I heal, I create; as I create, I heal.’ I love to explore art that pushes the edge of gender expression & identity. I create best in a collaborative setting so I work well with other artists, models & performers. I finding an intersection with sex positive communities, including leather, BDSM, cosplay and fem boy to name a few. “Never yuck on someone else’s yum!” “I’ll shoot anything twice, more if I like it!” This is my speciality studio @CToddDudeoir. Welcome!

As an artist, I explore art as therapy with an emphasis on stigma & shame, flipped and rescripted to reclaim its grip on my identity and self-confidence. Yea, mental health shit. This shows up in the form of artivism, a concept a read about when I discovered Through Positive Eyes. It inspired and informed my creative introduction to artivism with #CelebrateUU, in parallel to learning about art therapy as a tool for mental health & trauma informed living using harm reduction. This shows up in fine art projects, community art and artivism tied to my main studio @CToddCreations, under the emerging educator/performer persona Professor Peacock and under the pen blog CToddBeNow.net. Welcome!

Artist’s Profile, October 2022

I use a 70/20/10 rule of thumb that is aspirational or intentional. I have less control than I wish but accept that on most days. I’ve learned to just go along for the ride! Abide by The Four Agreements as best one can on any given day. Live for and in today.

At this phase in life, I think my work is 10/70/20 across C Todd Creations, Artivism, and C Todd Dudeoir. Again. Aspirational subject to change depending on what the Universe sets before me and the choices I make thereof 😉

Thanks for listening. This was really more for me. (Is anyone listening?)

Keep tellin’ the story.

Sawubona

Professor C Todd Peacock III
Community Artivist, Connector, Storyteller & Healer

#GameOn #CBD #TraumaInformedArt #TraumaInformedLiving #CelebrateUU

How does it make you feel? Art, Artivism & Art Therapy


This has become a bit of an inside joke with my therapists over the years.

“Yes, Todd. But how does it make you feel?” usually comes after I describe an event or situation with clarity & objectivity from my analytical left brain. It is harder for me to connect with the emotions and feelings that come up.

This question has also started to permeate my creative work. I’m a queer artivist – I bring my activism into my art. It’s also a form of art therapy, helping me to reclaim the shame & stigma I experience in life through digital creations. Music and art have the power to heal. 

I will also tell you that I struggle at times to identify the emotions in a photograph – or the emotions I want a given image to convey to the viewer.

When I was encouraged to create a piece for the HIV Is Not A Crime art contest, I was initially frozen in my tracks. How could I best convey how I feel when I think about HIV criminalization? What does stigma feel like? Where do these feelings come from?

Working in this space can be traumatizing for many different reasons. Thinking about HIV criminalization and the effects it has on my mental health can be heavy at times, bringing up sadness, shame, guilt and other difficult emotions. 

With this project, I wanted to rescript the negative messaging around HIV criminalization. I wanted this to be a positive message. It is easy to identify the negative effects of criminalization – much harder to find and hold onto hope. Hope for change. Hope for a cure. Hope for a world free of stigma and discrimination. 

That first required me to search my soul and imagine – what would it feel like for our laws to finally be repealed and modernized? 

Two words came to mind – joy and dance.

I could literally picture myself dancing, which is my happy place. 

From that inspiration came this piece which I call “Happy Dance

I will be exhibiting Happy Dance along with several other original art pieces at the Phoenix Theatre Nov 3-13, 2022 as part of the Spirit and Place Festival. This year’s theme is Identify. My pieces will be part reflection, part therapy, part celebration! Join us on November 9th for the main event, which includes the visual art show along with a panel discussion.


HIV Modernization
Ending The Stigma of People Living with HIV

Part of the Spirit & Place Festival

About this event

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).

Explore the exhibit and interact informally with artists beginning at 5:30. The Talk will begin at 6:15 moderated by Terrell Parker and will include HIV Modernization Movement Chair Dr. Carrie Foote, and Co-Chair Mark Anthony Hughes. The Phoenix bar will be open, and snacks will be provided.

A partnership between Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center and HIV Modernization Movement Indiana.

Contact the event organizers at 317-635-7529 or cmacy@phoenixtheatre.org.

Walk-ins welcome, but registration is strongly encouraged by Nov. 9.

ABOUT SPIRIT & PLACE. The Spirit & Place Festival (Nov. 3-13) celebrates the powerful role the arts, humanities, and religion play in community life and is housed in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Learn more at spiritandplace.org

Register here