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Visual AIDS - A Gallery of Art by HIV-Positive African Americans

Ronnie Queenan

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Queenan - Tenacious

Tenacious; mixed media, 14x18"
Queenan - Breaking the Silence
Queenan - Dream GirlsQueenan - RiseQueenan - UntitledQueenan - Uptown II
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.

Ronnie Queenan
Home: Houston, Texas
Age: 52
Meds: Crixivan (indinavir) + Combivir (AZT/3TC)

"What appears simple on the surface is really complex." Ronnie Queenan could be talking about the course his life has taken, but he's actually referring to his hometown of Lubbock, Texas. Surrounded by flat, open space -- a seemingly empty landscape filled with hidden beauty -- provided him with a muse as well as a place to grow. "The landscape around Lubbock ... probably did play a part in my passion for the abstract," Queenan says.

Since he was 15 years old, Ronnie Queenan has been drawn to abstract art -- or, more specifically, "to the freedom and calmness within it." However, it wasn't until the year he was diagnosed with HIV that Ronnie started creating his own works.

Before his HIV diagnosis, Queenan felt he was just an ordinary guy, with a day job as an accountant. One day, he went to his doctor for a routine check-up. He came out knowing his life would never be the same. HIV gave Queenan "a different view of life altogether. It made me a better person," he says.

However, it wasn't so easy for Queenan to accept his HIV status. "It took me over a couple of years to come to grips with it," he says. One of the ways he tried to deal with his unexpected diagnosis was to take his first art class. "I knew then that painting was my true calling in life," he recalls.

Now, many years later, Queenan attributes his continued good health to his paintings: "When you are doing what you enjoy most in this world, it has a positive effect on your mental and physical health." HIV is a part of him -- he refers to it as a "flaw" -- but he can easily accept it now: "It takes maturity ... [but] nobody is perfect," he says. Queenan believes his HIV status even helps him with his art: "It helps me dig into myself to be more and more creative."

Although most of his paintings are still abstract, Queenan feels they have a real impact, helping him heal and giving him hope. "The challenge [of life] is to enjoy the journey, the fun of it, not be hounded by the end result," he explains. "To just let go and let it be; to learn, evolve."

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