HIV/AIDS poster exhibit opens Sunday at Memorial Art Gallery

by AryanArtnews
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The interior of a Boston subway car is not famous for its artistic content. Dr. Edward Atwater wouldn’t even have thought much about the idea until one day in the early 1990s while vaguely scanning the interior of the car he was in.

His gaze landed on one of the posters promoting warnings for certain leisure products and public services. What I forgot right after arriving at my destination.

Still, one poster caught the attention of Atwater. A pair of bodyless hands that open the condom wrapper.

Aside from the subtle image, riding the Boston subway has planted a seed of passion to pursue until his retirement, two weeks before his death in 2019 at the age of 93. Collect posters for AIDS education.

Exhibits built on the Atwater collection will be held on Sunday at the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, as long as they fit on the wall. “Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and AIDS Poster” It will run until June 19th. Images that can be both entertaining and tragic due to the clever use of fruits.

The show is linked to the book of the same name published last summer by RIT Press at the Rochester Institute of Technology. This book introduces about 200 posters collected from the UR collection.

The Atwater collection has grown to over 8,000 images. And it continues to grow throughout the day as part of the University of Rochester collection, which may be the largest of its kind in the world.

Image provided

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Edward Atwater Collection

Not all AIDS posters in the Edward Atwater collection are aimed at gay relationships.

Mary Anne Mavrinac says she certainly hasn’t heard of other collections approaching.

Mavrinac was Vice-President and Andrew H of the University of Rochester Library until his retirement at the end of last year. And Janet Dayton Neilly Dean. And she knew Atwater. Mabrinack recalls Atwater explaining the moment of revelation of the subway a few years later. The lecture of the day was about the use of condoms as a contraceptive or to prevent the transmission of the disease, how those hands made him look back on his time as a student at Harvard Medical School.

“The instructor actually closed the door so no one could actually hear what they were talking about,” Mabrinack said in a conversation with Atwater last year for the show. I said when I was helping to prepare a collection of water. “And he thought. What a hell, the world has changed completely. There are posters promoting safe sex.”

Raised in Batavia, Atwater was a European pawn during World War II, spending most of his professional career at Strong Memorial Hospital and Faculty of Medicine faculty, specializing in internal medicine and rheumatology.

And he was a Renaissance man. Prior to Harvard Medical School, he had a minor in Comparative Literature at UR, majoring in history. He published the book “Pre-Civil War American Female Doctors: Biographical Dictionary”. Atwater has served on board of groups such as The Landmark Society and The Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries. He did gardening and traveled. He and his wife Ruth, who died in 2017, have visited Europe more than 20 times. They spent the summer in Vermont and the winter in St. John, the Virgin Islands. He collected books, drank good claret wine, and enjoyed classical music, especially with a pipe organ.

He collected stamps as a child and later moved to the popular American medicine and health reform rare books and ephemera: postcards, leaflets, condoms and clothing.

However, it is the poster collection that stands out even in its huge amount. According to Mavrinac, posters in 76 languages ​​from 131 countries. During the trip, Atwater stopped by the city’s health center, picked up the poster and took it back to the plane. He wrote to health centers around the world and asked for AIDS posters. Societies that Mabrinac said was not very open about the epidemic, even from Islamic countries.

It was inevitable to get duplicate posters for his collection. Atwater had about 6,000 extras. They were the fuel for trade. As Mabrinack pointed out, “at one point it was like a baseball card.”

For the opening of the exhibition on Sunday 2:00 pm lecture by Donald Albrecht, Exhibition guest curator and catalog co-editor. It is provided directly and virtually.

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