Here To Inspire

The Art of AIDS

BY Benjamin Ryan

November 18 2010 4:00 AM ET

FROG GIRL MARGUERITTE VAN COOK X560 | ADVOCATE.COM She and
Romberger learned of their own respective HIV infections in 1997. They
have a 25-year-old son, who is HIV-negative. After her diagnosis, Van
Cook says she suffered through seven years of often poor health,
including a bout of meningitis, the need for a hysterectomy, and
complications from hepatitis C coinfection. Today, she has found
inspiration, both for her own physical perseverance and for her artistic
vision, in her community gardening efforts. “I was watching these
things grown and just hanging on,” she says. “It was the idea that if I
could live through this bulb cycle, I can get through this.”


She’s
also examined the physical changes HIV and antiretroviral treatment has
brought onto her body—through an exploration of amphibians, which she
feels serve as a poignant metaphor. “This disease changes you and you’re
in between two worlds, more or less,” she says. “Because there is a
really strange sensation to being in a different place to those people
who are healthy. You start to live in this very amorphous condition. So I
made these images of women as frogs: growing flippers and tails.
Because your body really does change. And it is really difficult to cope
with.”

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