silver gelatin print,
10" x 18"
|All images are the property of the artist and may not be copied or reproduced without the express written permission of the artist and Visual AIDS.|
Donna Haggerty has been a photographer for virtually all of her 62 years, but it wasn't until after she was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 that she began to feel art was truly capable of changing people's lives. When she went on disability insurance in 1992, Donna says, it was the first time she'd had the chance to concentrate on her photography so intently; until then she'd always needed to work other jobs in order to pay the bills. Once she was finally able to devote herself fully to her craft, she says, "I saw the ways that art can transform and literally save our lives."
A breast-cancer survivor as well as an HIV survivor, Donna feels it's crucial that people like her make an effort to educate others and eliminate the stigmas surrounding HIV. "I want the world to look at this issue without flinching," she says.
Though Donna took several photography courses in the 1990s, she has otherwise received no formal education in the craft. Not that that's been an obstacle for her -- she has taken part in more than a dozen exhibits over the past five years and has been an active HIV-education speaker in the San Francisco area, where she currently lives. Donna considers herself a perfectionist in her work, and cannot imagine her existence without her passion. "Making art for me is the most important thing I do with my life," she says. "It is my job, my desire and my calling."