Claire Yaffa, whose work has been featured in The New York Times and several other major publications, has worked for years to document an intensely intimate, behind-the-scenes look at medical institutions and their youngest patients, giving agency and voice to thousands of
individuals—particularly children—struggling with life-threatening illnesses. Among the institutions that Yaffa has worked with during her long artistic career, the Incarnation Children’s Center in the Bronx—an organization that was one of the first to care for orphaned infants born with HIV—provided some of Yaffa’s most visceral subject matter, offering a stirring tribute to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Beginning in 1990, Yaffa visited Incarnation Children’s Center and was permitted to document the lives of these afflicted children and adolescents over a period of ten years, creating haunting portraits that capture the pathos and beauty of dozens of HIV’s youngest victims—most of whom did not survive to adulthood—and documenting the extraordinary devotion of the children’s caretakers.
The exhibition will have a special focus on two or three individual children’s stories and will featuring several of Yaffa’s emotionally moving, mid- to large-format, black and white photographs, and revealing with clarity and humility the often heartbreaking tales of children afflicted with HIV and AIDS.
AIDS in New York: The First Five Years will explore the impact of the epidemic on personal lives, public health and medical practices, culture, and politics in New York City and the nation. Drawing from the archives of the New York Public Library, New York University, and the National Archive of LGBT History, the show will use posters, photographs, and artifacts to tell the story of the early years of AIDS in New York.
Generous support for this exhibition and its related educational programming has been provided, in part, by Ford Foundation, The New York Community Trust, and the Keith Haring Foundation.
The latest of these displays to be installed, on view from September 18, 2012 through January 13, 2013, reflects on Keith Haring’s contributions to education, in particular his work in encouraging young people to read. On view will be posters, drawings and T-shirt designs by Haring, photographs by Adam Scull and Tseng Kwong Chi documenting the official launch of a Haring-designed campaign of public service advertisements, newspaper articles, a television interview with Haring, and one of the artist’s journals.
In 1986, with the encouragement of his friend and mentor Andy Warhol (1928–1987), internationally known New York artist Keith Haring (1958–1990) caused controversy by opening the Pop Shop in downtown Manhattan. Among Haring’s, and the Pop Shop’s, biggest fans were children: “There is nothing that makes me happier than making a child smile,” noted Haring in a 1988 journal entry. “The reason the “baby” has become my logo or signature is that it is the purest and most positive experience of human existence.” Throughout the 1980s Haring offered his services for education projects. In 1985 he created the poster for New York is Book Country, the famous annual book fair held on Fifth Avenue in support of the Children’s Services Division of the New York Public Library. Many of the best-known children’s authors including Charles Schulz, Maurice Sendak, and William Steig also donated their artwork for fair posters over the years—even as a fine artist, Haring’s work naturally paralleled theirs.