Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award

Ima Fatima Diawara •
Photo courtesy National AIDS Memorial

The first recipient of the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award is Ima Fatima Diawara of Los Angeles, whose passion and work shares the spirit of Mary Bowman, using art and activism to raise greater awareness about bigotry, stigma and social justice, particularly around the issue of HIV/AIDS. Ms. Diawara is an Afro-Latinx multimedia visual artist and performer. Her creativity explores truth through poeticism, movement, and narrative. Learn more about Ms. Diawara and sample some of her work at imadiawara.com.

The National AIDS Memorial and ViiV Healthcare created the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award to honor poet, advocate, and young PLHIV Mary Bowman, who died in May 2019 at the age of thirty. The $5,000 award was created to support one young artivist (twenty-seven years of age or younger) each year who exemplifies Mary’s passion for the arts as the vehicle for their own HIV/AIDS community activism and expression.

Mary Bowman [A&U, August 2016] was born with HIV. She used her art to explore and

Art by Farah J for ViiV Healthcare

document the experience of living with HIV and losing her mother to AIDS. As a young, proud, out woman of color, Mary used her voice to speak up for the next generation of people living with HIV, particularly advocating for other young people. For Mary, the arts gave her the platform and voice to channel her creative energy. She also served as an ambassador for the U.S. Department of Health’s Office of Women’s Health for its Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, appeared in PSAs for National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day PSAs, worked at an HIV/AIDS organization focused on women, and performed at the XIX International AIDS Conference, AIDSWatch (receiving a Positive Leadership Award from the advocacy initiative in 2015), and DIVAS Simply Singing!, among other events and conferences. To learn more about Mary, log on to https://www.aidsmemorial.org/post/mary-bowman.


Artivists who would like to be considered for the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award can apply here: https://scholarsapp.com/scholarship/mary-bowman-arts-in-activism-award. The deadline is July 15, 2021.

—Reporting by Hank Trout


Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-one-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick.