Antique and contemporary seed beads, Swarovski crystal, Chinese crystal, lapis, Czech glass, silk dupioni, silk habotai
16 x 7 in (40.64 x 17.78 cm)
The blood in our veins is what gives us life. Its importance is celebrated in various tribes as a fact. Unfortunately it is this same substance that is at risk for a sickness that is taking a portion of our people. HIV infection rates in native people have consistently ranked third in the nation behind Hispanic and black communities, although precise figures are nearly impossible to determine because of problems of misidentification as native and miscommunications between tribal health clinics and national research. Under representation and misleading figures veil the fact that new HIV infections in the native population are steadily rising and have been for the past fifteen years. The lack of frank and open communication based around safe sex plays its role in this increase. The taboos of speaking openly about unsafe sex and high-risk behaviors such as intravenous drug use have only served to add to new infection rates due to ignorance.
My goal for this piece is to act as a starting point of discussion about this topic. The blood down the center is the elephant in the room; we all have it, so few of us give it a second thought unless we need to. The reds in this piece are stark against the white background and remind the viewer that in the midst of mundane there is a prospect of a disruption. The beautiful colors are cut with a realization that yes, this disturbance will change everything, but instead of being the end of the design, it will integrate and become part of the whole narrative; a part of the whole. The back of the bag is decorated with morning stars on a dark blue background. They are in this context a double meaning of positive signs; a symbol of HIV positive status. It is important to know one’s own status in order to protect others and ourselves. We should remain diligent while knowing that our design does not come to an end but shines through.