In recognition of National Black HIV/AIDS awareness month, the Pierce County Aids Foundation is hosting “Reaching Down, Rising Up” — a beautifully curated exhib­it of mixed media art produced by local artists. “Reaching Down, Rising Up,” running through Feb. 28, is part of PCAF’s monthly installation of art exhibits celebrating various AIDS awareness days throughout the year.

Jill Frey, Personnel and Admin­istrative Coordinator at PCAF, cu­rated the group exhibition showcas­ing seven artists from the South Sound region. The artwork, which includes paintings, sculpture and mixed media celebrates deep empa­thy, inspiration and raw emotion. Each unique piece within the gallery conveys messages of a shared human­ity and a narrative of identity and cultural expression — it truly is such a powerful visual tribute and nod to PCAF’s mission and values.

“I wanted to show a lot of different mirrors around the issues of identity and representation not only for our clients but for us the staff and the com­munity we work with, for our board of directors but also for the artists,” Frey said. “We have such an amaz­ingly rich and deep community of artists and I wanted to allow as many as possible as our gallery would hold.”

PCAF provides various services to local communities through per­sonalized case management to people living with HIV, educational/preven­tative measures to help stop the transmission of HIV, and various other social services from commu­nity building events to providing food and necessary household items to community members in need. Be­cause art is such an integral part of HIV/AIDS awareness and support, PCAF fosters an environment that uses art as means to express, heal and tell people’s stories.

As a collection, the exhibit uti­lizes intense symbolism to commu­nicate the experiences, plight, and successes navigating the world as black artists. Federal Way artist Bar­ry Johnson showcases painting “Un­titled #34,” a beautiful and awe-in­spiring portrait of a black man. “Untitled #34” uses the weight of heavy, fragmented tiles to emphasize the barriers of being seen and ac­cepted in the dominant culture as a black man.

PCAF highlights the importance of an authentic representation of the diverse communities they serve and support throughout the South Sound Region.

“I’m hoping that it will be a strong exhibition, in which our clients will have the opportunity of seeing them­selves in our artwork, and if that hap­pens I feel it is a success,” Frey said.

“Reaching Down, Rising Up” is a wonderfully executed collection of art that moves and challenges view­ers to engage in reflective critical thinking and profound empathy. The artwork conveys unshakeable themes surrounding awakening and healing, self-expression and collective iden­tity and human existence. Collec­tively, “Reaching Down, Rising Up” serves as a sincere and honest repre­sentation of the care, love and to­getherness PCAF perpetuates within the South Sound region.

COURTESY OF PIERCE COUNTY AIDS FOUNDATION
Alex Alderman
Alex Alderman

Alex is studying sustainable urban development. She loves going to events around Tacoma and telling people about them. Her goal is to use her degree to make cities more sustainable.

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