Here To Inspire

The Art of AIDS

BY Benjamin Ryan

November 18 2010 4:00 AM ET


My Thinking Cap, 1997: This piece (above) is a bald head with the brain sectioned out like diagrams of cuts of meat, says Average, and each section has different words like hope, love, courage, sex—what’s in the forefront of your brain to keep you going. The person has no nose; instead the pills 3TC, d4T, and AZT are strapped to the head like a nose.

 The work that Average went on to produce—much of it infused with HIV-related themes—garnered critical acclaim and has even been sought out by celebs and royalty. In fact, he’s been credited with having given a face to AIDS in Canada when in 1991 he created the first national HIV awareness poster. He created British Columbia’s annual AIDS walk poster each year for more than a decade, and one of his existing pieces was requested for use as the symbolic artwork for the XI International AIDS Conference when the biennial meeting was held in Vancouver—although he did decide it was important to rework the piece specially for the IAC. The image also became Canada’s first AIDS-themed postage stamp.