One More Thing

Visitors to the Allen Memorial Art Museum on the first day of December found it eerily changed.

On the portico volunteers intoned 3000 names-names that appear on the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Inside the museum an empty chair presided over shrouded sculptures and walls stripped of paintings.

December 1 was the seventh annual Day Without Art - the day art institutions around the world commemorate those who have died of HIV - or AIDS - related illnesses. "Reading the names, shrouding sculptural works of art, and removing paintings from the King Sculpture Court emphasize the devastating losses in the arts community due to AIDS," says Eliza Hatch, the museum's coordinator of education.

The empty chair - artist Scott Burton's solid cast bronze Chair, which has been moved to the center of the King Sculpture Court the last four years - has become an enduring symbol of absence and loss for Oberln's Day Without Art observances. Burton, who created the piece in 1979, died of AIDS December 29, 1989.

The Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM) was joined in its 1995 observance of Day Without Art by the Department of Theater and Dance, the Art Students Committee, and ACT UP Oberlin. Art Student Committee co- chair senior Clayton Smith noted that the observance was a joint effort designed to involve the entire campus, "not just people who go in the museum."

The committee, which AMAM education intern Megan Burness says "put forth great effort to acknowledge Day Without Art, in collaboration with the museum and on its own," organized a panel discussion, led by Professor of Art William Hood, about how AIDS has affected people's personal and professional communities. Panelists Dean of Student Life and Services Charlene Cole '74, Professor of Biology Richard Levin, and local playwright Aubrey Wertheim spoke before opening the discussion to the audience. The committee also organized a display in Oberlin's Art Library of books by or about people with HIV or AIDS.

The committee also worked with ACT UP Oberlin to increase awareness about Day Without Art. The groups posted fliers and posters and hung red ribbons around campus. ACT UP sponsored a fundraiser at the 'Sco, proceeds from which will be donated to Oberlin-area AIDS organizations, and sposored a second reading of names in Wilder Bowl, where they erected a fake graveyard, each headstone representing a person who has died from AIDS.

Professor of Theatre Jane Armitage and junior T.O. Kriegsmann directed Bearing Witness: Contemporary Perspectives from American Writers on the AIDS Crisis. The work, presented in the museum's sculpture court, consists of scenes and monologues from Jeff Storer and Edward Hunt's play Hotlines, which is based on events at AIDS-crisis hotlines. Selections and monologues from plays by Larry Kramer, Christopher Durang, and Susan Sontag, among others, were also presented.

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