Applause Itself as a Continuation of the Play,
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Rebecca's love of the natural world and her work as an artist effortlessly coincide. The 1996 recipient of a B.F.A. from the Pacific Northwest College of Art, Rebecca returned to school in 2001 to pursue a degree in environmental studies at Portland State University. While conducting plant research in Ecuador, Rebecca, now 37, had a spiritual epiphany that she says led her to revisit her identity as an artist -- a part of her life that she hadn't had much time for of late. "I was on a bus in Ecuador and I was drawing," she recalls, "and a spirit appeared in the drawing, and told me that I had to work as an artist and a plant person at the same time. She told me that this was my path." Upon returning to the United States, Rebecca began producing paintings that combine whimsical, dreamlike figures with elements from the natural world.
In 1999, Rebecca, also an acclaimed photographer and film maker, worked with Jennifer Jako to direct and produce "Blood Lines," a moving 30-minute documentary on the lives of HIV-positive youths. The film is a snapshot of the lives, hopes and fears of young HIVers throughout the United States and Europe. Both women feel a special affinity toward the subject since both were infected with HIV while they were teenagers. The powerful film has often been shown on MTV during World AIDS Day.
"Blood Lines" is one of only two major works in which Rebecca, who has been HIV positive since 1990, explicitly highlights her own HIV status. The other is "Blood Work," a vast multimedia collection depicting images of her own blood under a microscope; the collection comprised the thesis presentation for her B.F.A. degree.
After the unexpected success of "Blood Lines" launched an intensive period of public speaking and HIV-prevention advocacy for Rebecca through the late 1990s, she decided it was time to move forward with the parts of her life she had initially left behind for activism. "I don't want the dialogue about AIDS to stop," she said in an interview for an arts magazine at the time. "But there needs to be a separation in my personal and public lives."
In 2004 Rebecca completed a one-month photography residency at Light Work in upstate New York. Her work has been shown at the Mark Woolley Gallery in Portland, Ore., and the Greenwood Chebithes Gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif. Jennifer Jako, her comrade-in-arms from "Blood Lines," is now a certified HIV educator and remains engaged full-time in the fight against HIV.
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