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The Women of Visual AIDS: HIV-Positive Women Making Art

Affrekka Jefferson, All That Glitters, 1991 click for full image
Affrekka Jefferson, All That Glitters, 1991 Affrekka Jefferson, Power of Performance, 1997 Affrekka Jefferson, Violation of Africa, 1984
All That Glitters,
mixed media,
11.5" x 14.5"
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.

Affrekka Jefferson:

Though she was born Paula Jefferson, Affrekka, proudly descended from one of Thomas Jefferson's slaves, added the ethnic moniker to her given name when she was 13. Always passionate about drawing, Affrekka holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York's School of Visual Arts and has studied everything from painting to construction technology in what has become a lifetime of education and creation for her. "I still believe in the great academic traditions of drawing and painting," she says, "above and beyond the mechanical and technological advances of the last few decades."

Affrekka's artwork -- largely created on wood or linoleum but often with oil on canvas as well -- is powerfully tied to her embrace of African culture and her own family's past, as can be seen in works like "Violation of Africa," above. Never mistake her, though, for a person who conforms to stereotypes in her art or in her life. "African art remains a most important influence on my life and work, a central theme which permeates my very existence and everything I have to contribute," she says. "And yet, my favorite of favorites remains Rembrandt."

Affrekka, 52, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She is a lifetime member of the Art Students' League, has her art on permanent display at the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration in Brooklyn, and is the former Art Director of the Jamaica Arts Council. Her HIV-positive status has only strengthened her desire to see, learn and achieve more with her life each day. "I cherish the time I have on this earth," she says. "I want to resist every attempt to limit my possibilities and to diminish my growth, so that I am able as a creative woman to say something beautiful, worthy and new."

Editor's note: Affrekka died of AIDS-related causes in February 2004.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Baby Sis (Freeport, NY) Tue., Mar. 2, 2010 at 12:11 am UTC
Affrekka was not only an artist, she was one of th few Black feminist in the 60's Thanks sis for taking me to see Angela Davis at MSG. Affrekka was also a civil rights activist, a gay and lesbian activist, HIV/AIDS activist and an active member of all those movements . Her favorite music was the Beatles, Nina Simone and Barry white, no kidding.
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Comment by: Beck Young (Brooklyn, NY) Fri., Dec. 18, 2009 at 12:13 pm UTC
Affrekka was a friend of mine, and an amazing artist. She was a smart, articulate, generous woman and I miss her. Shout out to Raihannah: I never met you, but Affrekka talked about you with great pride and love. I'm sorry I didn't know when she died - I would have been there to convey my sadness with you.
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Comment by: raihannah jefferson (ny ) Tue., Dec. 1, 2009 at 7:16 pm UTC
I miss my qrandmother.
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