Pacifico Silano, "Penthouse Views," 2016

Our Viral Lives creator Kyle Bella shares a call for his new project Those We Hold Close, an opportunity to reflect on artists who have been lost to AIDS, and how their legacies and/or specific works influence our own writing and thinking in 2016.

Bella writes, "A major component of my own studies, even before this project, has been exploring what it means to reciprocate the act of bearing witness. Those who died from AIDS have given visibility to forms of violence – both real and institutional – that often occurred as they were dying. I continue thinking about how reviving their stories and bodies protects and shapes witnessing in the present day.

How can you participate? It’s simple, really:

  • Sit down one-on-one with Bella for an interview about the artist of your choice and one of their works. This can be videotaped or simply tape-recorded.
  • Write down your thoughts in a creative or autobiographical way that responds to an artist or work they’ve created.
  • Use a creative medium (i.e. photography, graphics, etc.) to create this same response. If the connection is abstract, please provide a few sentences explaining the context.

Try to think about why this artist has been so influential and what you think is most important for future generations to remember. Contact Kyle at kyle@ourvirallives.org for more information.

Kyle Bella is currently serving as an Executive Assistant at ColorOfChange, an organization devoted to empowering the voices of Black folks and their allies in democracy. He is also pursuing an M.A. in Social Innovation and Sustainability through Goddard College, where he has launched the Our Viral Lives project. Previous writing on HIV/AIDS has been published in Colorlines Magazine, POZ Magazine, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed LGBT, nomorepotlucks, and Jacket2. He's deeply committed to global perspectives on HIV and sexuality, having visited Western Europe, Mexico and South Africa.