In response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that devastated the Bay Area arts community, a group of passionately concerned artists, collectors and art dealers founded Visual Aid in 1989 to serve artists affected by the disease. Over time, the organization expanded its mission to help produce, present and preserve the work of professional, visual artists in need, those whose careers are challenged because of any life-threatening illness.
Each year, over 75 professional, visual artists suffering from disabling, life-threatening illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C and breast cancer benefit from Visual Aid’s programs. Serving Bay Area visual artists from diverse backgrounds, the organization encourages artists to remain active participants in the larger arts community, and promotes dialogue on illness and art.
In a society where success is measured in financial terms and artists are marginalized, an artist’s commitment to a life of art-making usually involves struggle and personal sacrifice. When artists become ill, they are confronted with the difficult decision of choosing between maintaining their health or art careers. Each day, these artists continue to make art, confronting the uncertainty of illness and the powerful side effects of medication, while battling prejudice, isolation and depression.