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Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance to Sponsor African Art Exhibition

By Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance

"If we preserve the people, we will preserve their culture."

SAN RAFAEL, CA (May 13, 2004) - The Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) announced today that an art exhibition celebrating the legacy of African culture will open at the Dominican University library from June 10 through August 27. Entitled "The Splendid Culture of Africa: Preserving a Legacy," the exhibit is sponsored by GAIA and supported by the School of Arts and Sciences at Dominican University. The exhibit can be viewed at Archbishop Alemany Library Gallery, 50 Acacia Avenue.

Prominently displayed in the show will be textiles and sculptures from the galleries of Dave DeRoche and Kathleen Taylor, noted collectors of African Art. Major sponsors of the event include Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough LLC, the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, and Ann Green and Bill Smith of Frank Howard Allen Realtors, along with a number of individual patrons.

The opening reception will be held Thursday June 10, 2004 in the Library Gallery from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. Tickets to the opening reception, which is also a benefit for GAIA, are $50.00.

The exhibition is a celebration of Africa's rich culture and the urgent need to preserve it. "Africa's incredible legacy is being threatened by HIV/AIDS because so many people in the prime of their life are being wiped out," says Amy Rankin-Williams, Development Director of GAIA. "Here is the beauty, here is the threat, and here is the response of GAIA."

The Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance, based in San Francisco, partners with religious organizations in the Central African country of Malawi to provide hope and attention to these citizens by delivering care, testing, supplies, and community-based education. Fifteen percent of the country's citizens currently live with the HIV virus. Through this exhibit, GAIA seeks to raise funds for their efforts in Malawi while providing education and awareness to the local community.

The pieces in the exhibition are primarily ritual/ceremonial and objects used in everyday life. "African art is not art for art's sake," explains Sandi Chin, exhibition Curator and Art History Professor at Dominican University. "Art is imbued in everyday life. Through the art you can see the social outlooks and religious beliefs, as well as the aesthetic elements."

This cultural perspective of African life will be complemented by an AIDS perspective, achieved through photographs of GAIA's recent work in Africa. Through this combination, GAIA hopes to create a sense of immediacy. "People will see some beautiful objects, and at the same time I hope they are inspired by the work that GAIA is doing," says Nancy Murray, GAIA Event Coordinator. "There is so much hopelessness that surrounds us, but when you put faces to the work we do, you see that these are just people being people. They have been swept up by a plague beyond their scope."

This sense of hopelessness is part of what this exhibit hopes to eliminate through raising awareness. "In art history, you look at art from social context," explains Chin. "What social issue is more urgent right now than the HIV/AIDS epidemic? Our world is a global village: some of us are physicians or chairs of health organizations, but the rest of us need to ask ourselves what we can do."

For more information on GAIA, please read our October 2003 article.

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