Putting final touches on a model for the show.
Coming out about being poz is tough. What made you decide to be open?
There are several reasons why I’m coming out. One is because people aren’t informed enough about HIV and are still stuck in the trauma that has carried over from previous years. I’m hoping that people will read this, gain perspective and lose the stigma and fear against HIV. Another reason is because I know there are many people out there that have been recently diagnosed and may feel alone — thinking they are the only ones. But the truth is you are not [alone], there are more than 36 million people living with HIV in the world! And it’s OK, we’re all in this together and we need to support each other in any way we can. I want people to understand that having HIV is not a death sentence anymore, it’s a lifestyle that requires a strict treatment regimen and healthy living.
As an artist, has becoming HIV-positive impacted your work in any way?
HIV is now in my blood, so I am full of positivity — contagious positivity, that is — so of course I have ideas running from my blood through my head all the time about how I want to portray this experience.
Onicks models patiently as Mejia creates an eloborate snake design (photo by Brett Saari).
What does "living in truth" mean to you?
Living in truth is making every step we take a conscious one, living with acceptance, and putting denial aside. It’s important to accept the brutal truth of this world and ourselves. If we dig deep within the actions we make and accept who we really are with flaws and all, we can then change ourselves, and reflect that out into the world, and inspire change in others. I feel my vision and dream of helping others has finally come to the surface. I hope my story resonates and makes an impact in the way people choose to live. I want to invite people to start changing now.
Are you single or married?
I married Kyera Dalessandro, a contestant of Skin Wars season three, at the World Body Painting Festival in Austria. There was an incredible art installation, “Wedding Chapel,” by artist Birgit Mörtl, where she invited all people to celebrate love with magical creatures, beautiful costumes, body paint, and a view of Wörthersee Lake. A faun was in charge of the ceremony; it was an unforgettable moment. There’s a video of it on my Instagram. Kyera and I are good friends, soul mates, but not sexual partners. I am surrounded by love, but always seeking more. Perhaps one day, someone will fly with me on my journey.
What’s next for you?
I am constantly traveling around the world working on different projects with many creative people. I hope to collaborate with as many artists as possible to make magic and bring light where ever I go. Stay updated @michaelmejiaart on Instagram/Facebook/Snapchat/Twitter.