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That first required me to search my soul and imagine – what would it feel like for our laws to finally be repealed and modernized?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.
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discussion, learn how people living with HIV and their allies are working to end HIV stigma by modernizing Indiana’s outdated HIV criminal laws.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 firstname.lastname@example.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