Eric Avery: AIDS WORK includes more than 30 prints and books by Dr. Eric Avery acquired by Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA) and the Mortimer Rare Book Room in 2014. This group represents a cohesive and important body of work that documents three decades in the life of the major public health crisis of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). As an artist, physician, and gay man, Avery was at the center of the crisis both personally and professionally.
The artworks Dr. Avery first created on the subject of AIDS after its initial outbreak in the early 1980s focused on his personal experience with the disease. Later works incorporated the latest medical and policy information on the treatment of AIDS, as well as expressing and disseminating vital information about risk factors and protective measures to combat the spread of infection.
This desire to provide information to the public and to enact positive change in the world is central to Avery’s view of his purpose as an artist. According to Avery, “If you believe that information can lead to change, then bearing witness is the narrative function of art and serves a social purpose. If one person, after seeing one of my art actions, were motivated to change an HIV risk behavior and did not get HIV, then this would be my evidence that art can save lives.”
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website