University of Alabama at Birmingham in collaboration with community partners.“One in Our Blood,” a series of exhibitions and programs by artist Jordan Eagles, will be presented in part by the
The UAB College of Arts and Sciences’ Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts will present “One in Our Blood: Blood Equality,” from Sept. 22-Dec. 9, with an opening reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22. The events are free and open to the public. The exhibition is concurrent with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute presentation of Eagles’ “Blood Mirror.”
“One in Our Blood” exhibitions and programs address the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent update to its lifetime ban on gay and bisexual male blood donors, which now requires 12 months of celibacy prior to donation. A UCLA Williams Institute study concluded that lifting the ban could save up to a million lives annually. Not only does the FDA ban exacerbate the growing issue of blood shortage, it infringes on the civil rights of would-be donors within the LGBTQ community, Eagles says.
Between 2015-2016, Eagles enlisted a diverse group of gay, bisexual and transgender men to donate their blood in protest of the FDA’s ban and to create the sculpture, “Blood Mirror,” a 7-foot-tall monolith in which viewers can see themselves reflected in the fully encased and preserved blood of 59 donors. Each of the 59 men is ineligible to donate blood under the FDA’s current policy. A totem of science and equality, the sculpture incarnates the 33-year history of the FDA’s discriminatory ban.
“One in Our Blood: Blood Equality” at UAB’s AEIVA focuses on the process of blood collection, science and the community of men who donated blood for “Blood Mirror.” Sculptures created from the blood bags, blood collection tubes and protective medical gear gathered during the blood collection and making of “Blood Mirror” and other works will be featured.
All blood donations for “Blood Mirror” were conducted under the medical supervision of Howard Grossman, M.D. The donors were selected, in part, because their blood is medically safe for donation, yet cannot be donated under current FDA policy without a year of celibacy, a condition not applied to heterosexual donors. All blood and medical waste is preserved and fully encased in UV resin.
The works in this exhibition were created deliberately to engage viewers in an important discussion of safety and public health. Educating people about HIV so the public can distinguish facts from myths and misconceptions remains crucial to fighting the disease.
Eagles is a New York-based artist who has been working with and preserving blood for nearly 20 years. Eagles’ works are held in numerous collections including the Addison Gallery of American Art, Everson Museum of Art, Princeton University Art Museum, The Rose Art Museum, Mobile Museum of Art and University of Michigan Museum of Art. His works have been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine and Time, among others. Eagles is one of the founding collaborators of the Blood Equality Campaign. For more information, visit jordaneagles.com.
“One in Our Blood” programs and exhibitions were conceived and coordinated by curator Paul Barrett, director of Stephen Smith Fine Art in Fairfield.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, the Birmingham Museum of Art will host “30 Years of Acting Up,” a public program addressing blood donation policy as both a civil right and a science issue and its connection to HIV/AIDS, art and activism. The program will feature panelists Eric Sawyer, AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power founding member and current Gay Men’s Health Crisis vice president of public affairs and policy; ACT UP founding member and Treatment Action Group co-founder Peter Staley; and executive director of South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council Bambi Gaddist, Dr.P.H. The panel will be moderated by Alex Fialho, Visual AIDS program director and blood donor in “Blood Mirror.”
The UAB School of Medicine will host the Blood Equality Medical Advisory Board Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 19. Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the division that oversees blood donation policy, will attend, alongside prominent medical leaders and experts in the study of blood donation.
The Birmingham Public Library central branch will host “Blood Divided: The Story of Dr. Charles R. Drew” from Oct. 20-Dec. 1. Despite Drew’s pioneering research, which led to the creation of modern blood bank technology, Jim Crow laws barred him from donating blood to the system his inventions made possible.
AEIVA is open to the public 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 12-6 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sundays and holidays.