Tree hugger” took on a whole new meaning at the United States Conference on AIDS 2016, which convened in late September in Hollywood, Florida. Mondo Guerra [A&U, January 2013], fashion designer and winner of the debut season of Project Runway All Stars, installed a series of Pozitivitrees in the conference space to express the interconnections between all parts of our lives, and among our relationships, personal and professional, with each other.
The HIV advocate “planted” the Pozitivitrees as part of his contribution to I Design, an HIV education campaign created by Merck to encourage individuals living with HIV/AIDS to take a proactive, empowered approach to their health by seeking information and nurturing engaged and honest dialogues with their physicians and other members of their healthcare team about HIV and other health conditions. Music industry professional and HIV advocate Maria Davis [A&U, January 2016] also works on the campaign.
Guerra used the Pozitivity design he introduced on a Project Runway Season 8 challenge, where he disclosed his positive status in response to a query about the use of fabric covered with plus signs. Since then, he has become a public spokesperson in the fight against AIDS—continuing to show how living with HIV can work with, not against, the creative spirit to transform one’s life for the better. The Pozitivitrees link this expressivity to the collaborative approach championed by I Design. In his artistic statement, he stated: “I approached this installation artistically in the same way that I approach working together with my healthcare providers. This project is rooted in the importance of having an ongoing dialogue: with my work, with project collaborators, with my doctors.”
The yarn-wrapped outer trees start with a foundational white with only a few black lines, representing questions and connections not yet made, and lead to the middle trees, where the color red, saturated by its symbolic association with the HIV/AIDS community, adds more information and scientific progress in the healthcare field.
Finally, the innermost trees show the Pozitivity design in full bloom, interlacing red, white, and black together. States Guerra: “It reflects bringing a community of people infected and affected by HIV from the outside-in, and applying all that we are and all that we know to the structure, which gives us added strength while creating a strong sense of balance. I hope that those who view this project will not only see the inherent beauty that embraces these trees, but also hear and feel so many stories of Pozitivity that it tells. Stories of love, faith, character, strength and beyond all else, stories of hope.”
For more information, log on to: www.ProjectIDesign.com.