Media contact: Cynthia Medina, [email protected], 848-445-1940

Rutgers Expert Available to Discuss World AIDS Day, 30th Anniversary of “Day Without Art”

Newswise — New Brunswick, N.J. (Nov. 21, 2019) – Rutgers Zimmerli Art Museum Director Thomas Sokolowski is available to discuss his role as a pioneer in AIDS activism in the 1980s as a co-founder of art activist organization Visual AIDS, and the organizing of the first Day Without Art which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

“Visual AIDS started with four of us – myself, Gary Garrels, Robert Atkins and William Olander – who all worked in the art world, had established connections, and knew we could make a difference. We looked around at all of the artists, curators, painters, directors and art handlers in our group, and thought that if we were all gone, there would literally be a day without art. So, we started the first ‘Day Without Art’ on Dec. 1, 1989.  Museums closed for the day or removed artworks from view. One of the biggest additions was when the Metropolitan Museum of Art removed Picasso’s Gertrude Stein and replaced it with a note essentially saying that it was as if someone you loved was suddenly gone,” Sokolowski said.

Sokolowski said the AIDS epidemic may feel like it is fading away in the United States, but in other parts of the world, like Africa, the epidemic is still an issue.

“AIDS still exists. Young people now need to get involved. Whether it’s climate change or immigration in America, you pick your cause and do something. One person can do anything if they tried. I never could have imagined what a group of four men in the 80s could have done to start this movement in AIDS awareness, but we did. Visual AIDS was the most important thing I have ever done, but it’s time now for the younger generation to take charge and make change in this world.”

Sokolowski, director of Rutgers University–New Brunswick’s Zimmerli Art Museum, is a distinguished museum leader and art historian. He can be reached by contacting Cynthia Medina at  [email protected].




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