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Visual AIDS Day With(out) Art

Day With(out) ArtDay Without Art (DWA) began on December 1st 1989 as the national day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS crisis. To make the public aware that AIDS can touch everyone, and inspire positive action, some 800 U.S. art and AIDS groups participated in the first Day Without Art, shutting down museums, sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or sponsoring special exhibitions of work about AIDS. Since then, Day With(out) Art has grown into a collaborative project in which an estimated 8,000 national and international museums, galleries, art centers, AIDS Service Organizations, libraries, high schools and colleges take part.

In the past, Visual AIDS initiated public actions and programs, published an annual poster and copyright-free broadsides, and acted as press coordinator and clearing house for projects for Day Without Art/World AIDS Day. In 1997 we suggested Day Without Art become a Day WITH Art, to recognize and promote increased programming of cultural events that draw attention to the continuing pandemic. Though "the name was retained as a metaphor for the chilling possibility of a future day without art or artists", we added parentheses to the program title, Day With(out) Art, to highlight the proactive programming of art projects by artists living with HIV/AIDS, and art about AIDS, that were taking place around the world. It had become clear that active interventions within the annual program were far more effective than actions to negate or reduce the programs of cultural centers.

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Articles and writing on Day Without Art

SCENE & HEARD: Day Without Art
Village Voice, Robert Atkins, December 1989

A Day Without Art
ARTS magazine, Robert Atkins, May 1990, p 62

How to Have Art (Events) in an Epidemic: A History of Visual AIDS from Day Without Art to the Red Ribbon
Address delivered at SAIC by Robert Atkins on December 1, 1992

The Unfashionability of AIDS
Interview with Thomas Sokolowski

Additional Bibliography

The New York Times

Artists Offer "Day Without Art" to Focus on AIDS
The New York Times, Andrew Yarrow, December 2, 1989

With Art and Without, a Day for Calling Attention to the AIDS Crisis
The New York Times, Eleanor Blau, November 30, 1990

AIDS AND ART: A history of a disease and the arts campaign to stop it
Carnegie Online, Jane-Ellen Robinet, 2005

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Posters and Broadsides

Visual AIDS produced a series of posters and broadsides from 1990-1998 for distribution across the United States. In many places, the pinning up of the poster was a statement in and of itself. Posters and broadsides were collaboratively created by various artists and designers. In recent years, Visual AIDS has brought back a new series of AIDS Awareness broadsides that can be used year round. Below are the digital archives of copyright-free images of the posters and broadsides. Please feel free to download and reproduce these images for your use in observing DWA and AIDS Awareness events.

Posters (1990-1998)

Broadsides (1992-1997)
Artists include: Barbara Kruger 1992, Glenn Ligon 1992, John Giorno 1993, Andrian Kellard 1993, Adamo Yuri Melaney 1994, William Cullum 1995, Roberto Juarez 1995, Steed Taylor 1995, Mike Parker 1996, Copy Berg 1997, Bradford Branch 1997

Broadsides (2005-current)
Artists include: Neil Farber, Deborah Grant, Derek Jackson, Chris Johanson, Joe DeHoyos, Carrie Moyer, Curtis Carman, Maria Lotuffo, Ginger Brooks Takahashi

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Suggestions: Day With(out) Art/AIDS Awareness

The origins of Day Without Art suggested shutting down museums and galleries, sending staff to volunteer at AIDS services, or covering up artwork and displaying AIDS statistic information to "focus attention on the art community's losses and stimulate discussion about the role of artists and art institutions might play in the AIDS crisis". Since then, Day With(out) Art has grown into an international collaborative project often involving a Day WITH Art, to recognize and promote increased programming of cultural events that draw attention to the continuing pandemic. Below are some AIDS Awareness suggestions you might organize in your community.

Exhibitions -- Organize an exhibition of artwork by an artist(s) living with HIV/AIDS or artwork related to the AIDS pandemic. Exhibitions can be an open call for artwork or curated with a specific theme in mind. Consider where the artwork will be shown and how it will be exhibited. If budget and security of the artwork is an issue, consider exhibiting smaller works, work on paper, posters, mail art, etc. Many AIDS service organizations have artist workshops. Invite participants to be involved.

Artist's Talk -- Invite an artist living with HIV/AIDS to speak at your school, gallery, or art center. Artist can speak about his/her artwork and present slides or a workshop. Visit the Artists Web Sites on the Visual AIDS Membership page for examples of artwork. If you are interested in an artist talk, please feel free to contact Visual AIDS for suggestions on artists in your area or contact a local AIDS service organization.

Artist Workshop -- Invite an artist living with HIV/AIDS to give a workshop or lead a collaboration with a local AIDS service organization.

Art Auction -- Have an art auction of local artists and donate the funds to an AIDS service organization.

Video Screening -- Exhibit film or videos that examine issues of living with HIV/AIDS. For suggestions visit:,,

Classroom Curriculum -- Discuss the work and lives of artists, writers, musicians, performers, and activists who have died of AIDS or deals with issues of HIV/AIDS. Create assignments or projects that encourage researching individuals along with current demographic information about HIV/AIDS.

Posters -- Design a poster, banner, or broadside for display and distribution. Posters can be created by individual artists or by groups in a classroom or workshop. Large posters can be displayed outdoors, in public place, or in galleries, hallways, AIDS service organizations, schools, etc. Smaller posters can be photocopied and distributed widely. Posters can be designed as a graphic design project or artist workshop. For examples, visit:,,

T-shirts -- Design t-shirts or other clothing that shares a message, statistic, image or name related to the AIDS pandemic.

Condoms -- Have students or workshops decorate condom packages with paint, glitter, stickers, etc -- as a way to discuss safer sex practices. Attach pins to the back of the condom wear. Distribute free condoms.

Diary -- Share a "Day in the Life" by writing a journal entry that relates personal experiences relating to AIDS. You might write it with specific time entries, as prose, with visual notes, or however you would like to share your personal experience. Entries can be short or long. The entries can then be shared with others via readings, postings, classrooms, publications and the web. Online examples:,

Action -- Plan an action/observance in your workplace, classroom, or neighborhood specific to your community i.e.: distribute Red Ribbons and HIV/AIDS information; Organize a clothing or food drive for your local AIDS service organization; Start a fundraiser (bake sale, art auction, AIDS Walk); organize a rally, candlelight vigil or moment of silence; Pin red ribbons to trees or public spaces; Create a names memorial wall; Contact your local politician and let them know you support more AIDS related funding and services; Set up a special display of books and resource materials about HIV/AIDS at your local library; Encourage HIV testing; Distribute free condoms; Volunteer at or make a donation to an AIDS program

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