“We hope the mosaic can become a means for awareness, not just about AIDS as a one-dimensional issue but about AIDS as a local issue, one that involves real people who deserve love, compassion, and grace."— Sarah Tiedeman, Photos by John Keatley.
Student-led campaign brings an outpouring of support for those with AIDS
When Sarah Tiedeman came to Seattle Pacific University in 2003, she already had a heart for the global AIDS crisis. “Even before my freshman year, I knew two people who had died of the disease,” she says. Now an international studies major who will be a senior this fall, Tiedeman dreamed up reVISION, a community art project designed to help students examine their perceptions of AIDS.
The event was sponsored by the student-led organization Acting on AIDS (AoA), founded by former SPU students Lisa Krohn, James Pedrick, and Jackie Yoshimura. AoA has since launched chapters on 55 Christian college and university campuses across the nation.
reVISION brought students and Seattle community members together to paint ceramic tiles and discuss how Christians respond to AIDS. Art, says Tiedeman, is a “natural means for conversation, especially when words aren’t adequate or appropriate.” The finished project, complete with 81 colorful tiles, was unveiled in a ceremony on May 30, 2006, at First Free Methodist Church, adjacent to the SPU campus.
“Many who participated in the project,” says Tiedeman, “had never met anyone with AIDS or HIV.” She invited people from local AIDS organizations, both patients and staff, to take part in reVISION. “It was amazing to see SPU students getting to know, and in some cases becoming friends with, people with HIV and AIDS.”
Seattle Pacific senior and project participant Kyle Igarashi says the experience changed his perception of AIDS: “I realized this was not a problem to be solved, but rather people in need of help, love, and company.” Igarashi painted his tile all red with a small white door slightly open. “It represented hope,” he explains. “It’s there — but it’s off in the distance. We have to work for it.”
Tiedeman and other volunteers plan to take the mosaic on the road to display in Seattle-area churches and museums.
Acting on AIDS (AoA) brings awareness to SPU campus about the HIV/AIDS pandemic through forums and campus events. Acting on AIDS brings hope to each student by informing them on how they can make a difference in this crisis today.
By Lindsey Bickel