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Exhibit Aims to Increase Awareness of AIDS

By Mildred M. Yuan, Contributing Writer

An emaciated baby wrapped in blood-red strips of cloth bursts from the frame of Penelope Sipis's photograph "AIDS--Baby--Africa"--a picture of innocence and suffering in one of the world's most devastating epidemics.

The photograph is one of 36 provocative and graphic works by well-known Southern African artists in an exhibit titled "ArtWorks for AIDS," on display through tomorrow at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts as part of the Harvard AIDS Institute's observance of AIDS Awareness Week.

"When I first saw the collection, I just felt that it would be such a crime for people not to see it," said Susan M. Curren, co-chair of Artworks for AIDS and a member of the International Advisory Council for the AIDS Institute. "It's incredibly educational. You really get a sense of what these people are going through, their angst and how devastating it is for them and their countries."

The exhibit is completing an international tour, with stops in Durban, South Africa, Brussels and Washington, D.C.

Marilyn Martin, of the South African National Gallery in Cape Town, helped select the artists featured and serves as the curator of the exhibit.

All of the works are original and the artists were given no restrictions, save the AIDS subject matter and the size of the work.

The artists, from the countries of Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zambia, depicted the impact of AIDS on their countries in a wide variety of works. They used a range of media, from oil and acrylic paintings on canvas to sculpture, photography, linocuts and a variety of multimedia and mixed media works.

The works were commissioned by pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb as part of its $100 million Secure the Future program, which focuses on AIDS prevention and treatment for women and children

The art on display will be auctioned off Thursday at the Harvard Club of Boston.

Part of the proceeds from the auction will go to the AIDS Institute's newly opened Botswana lab, which is working to develop a vaccine and to prevent mother-to-infant transmission of the virus. Remaining proceeds will go to the 1999 Miss Universe Mpule Kwelagobe, who founded a village in Botswana to care for children orphaned by AIDS.

The exhibit is free of charge. Tickets for the auction dinner are available from the AIDS Institute, which organized the exhibit, for $150.

The AIDS Institute was created in 1988 to consolidate the already existing AIDS research at Harvard University.

Other events held this month by the AIDS Institute included a summit to address the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa. United States and Southern African leaders participated in the discussion, which took place at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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