Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Art for Global Health

art_condom-dressesI recently discovered the UCLA Art|Global Health Center, the mission of which is to “unleash the transformative power of the arts to advance global health“. The arts have the ability to capture issues and tell a story in a way that can make a profound impact on our (social) consciousness and is not something we talk about enough as a tool. One of the more famous examples of this is the AIDS quilt which was conceived of in 1985 by an AIDS activist in memory of Harvey Milk. That quilt has had over 14 million visitors and is the largest community arts project in the world.

The UCLA center has some ongoing projects and last year opened “Make Art | Stop AIDS” that featured traditional art as well as things like condom dresses. Make Art/Stop AIDS “is organized around a series of seven interconnected and at times overlapping concerns expressed in the form of open-ended questions, some of which include direct art historical references to the epidemic: What is AIDS?; Who lives, who dies?; Condoms: what’s the issue?; Is it safe to touch?; When is the last time you cried?; What good does a red ribbon do?; Are you angry enough to do something about AIDS?; and, finally, Art is not enough. Now it’s in your hands.”

Creative art projects have the ability to move the human mind unlike the constant barrage of issues, numbers and headlines that desensitize us over time. If you have seen or heard of any interesting arts based global health projects let us know.

More Sources
Adriana Bertinin’s condom dresses

Addressing HIV/AIDS-Related Grief and Healing Through Art

History of the AIDS Memorial Quilt

Condom fashion show, China


Written by Aman

April 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Thanks for this post! Lately I’ve been finding that I’m going to a lot of arts-based events for international development and global health (this week, especially movies).

    My favourite project: while at the AIDS conference in Mexico last year, I stumbled upon a community arts centre that showed plush microbes that had been made by indigenous women. It was part of an education campaign to get them to know more about health in their communities.


    May 8, 2009 at 11:08 am

  2. Thank you for noting the poorly worded post and clarifying that the AIDS quilt was of course initially dedicated to those who had died from AIDS. Under the “more sources” section at the end of the post we linked to the reference you mention (History of the AIDS Memorial Quilt).


    April 14, 2009 at 7:42 pm

  3. Ummm, you might want to check your history–that wikipedia entry is badly written. While Cleve Jones may have come up with the idea of the AIDS quilt during a candlelight march remembering Harvey Milk, the purpose of the AIDS quilt was to commemorate the growing number of people who had died of AIDS. Milk, after all, died in 1978–three years before AIDS was recognized as a problem anywhere in the world. See for more.

    Christine Gorman

    April 14, 2009 at 6:17 pm

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