Kahlil Gibran once wrote, “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”

A piece of graphic art by Gil Croy that will be displayed during the show.

Gil Croy, local artist and organizer of Artisan’s Circle, strongly subscribes to this philosophy of self-created experience and embodies it fully as a man living with HIV.

“I have been fortunate to have been living with the disease for 21 years. And by fortunate, I mean that I have been so blessed by what this disease has taught me, both emotionally as well as spiritually,” Croy says.

But discovering empowerment within his own experience was only the first step for Croy — he desires deeply to spread his fresh interpretation of HIV/AIDS in hopes of liberating others from the dark stigma that plagues our society’s understanding of the disease.

“My hope is, if I stand up, out and proud, it may inspire someone else who is ‘ashamed’ to have this,” he explains. “This disease is nothing to be ashamed of, if anything it is something to be celebrated. Everyone who thinks they are ‘suffering’ from this disease should allow themselves to be ‘empowered’ by it – it is a choice… I do hope, however that the stigma, which is ever present, can be overcome.”

So like any good artist, Croy starting dreaming. Working within the “creative cooperating” arts community Artisan’s Circle, Croy called on five of his fellow local artists to team up and take on the complex task of creating an art show expressive of the HIV/AIDS experience; thus the idea for ‘Positively Art’ was born.

HIV/AIDs is such a complex, multi-faceted, and difficult issue -simultaneously personal and communal, frightening and inspiring, painful and “empowering.” And combating our society’s deep seeded apprehension surrounding the disease is a looming task; yet, this eclectic group of artists seems geared up to take on the charge. Using their unique styles, creative talents, visions and personal connections with HIV/AIDS, Artisan’s Circle members will construct art of various mediums and types to project a tone that is “muted, more emotional…but alive at the same time.”

Croy argues that shows such as Positively Art, dedicated to expressing art interacting with life, are not only beneficial but are absolutely needed within our community.

“I personally believe that our society is making a tremendous mistake by not promoting the arts for our youth and communities,” Croy says. “Creative thought leads to problem solving which leads to invention. We are becoming a society of followers not leaders. Art influences, moves, agitates, infuriates society, makes it see all sides of issues. It is time for us to empower ourselves – and I think seeing our community reflected in our art, no matter what medium can only lead to open communication and positive (pardon the pun) thought! Our loves, our lives, our issues, our gallery – this is my goal in helping the center promote arts within our community.”

The show will open on May 6 — the day before Charlotte’s annual AIDS Walk — at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center with a reception from 5:30-9:00 p.m. and remain on display through early July. For more information about the show or group of artists, follow Artisan’s Circle on Facebook and stay tuned for gallery updates at gaycharlotte.com. : :

Leah Cagle

Leah Cagle is QNotes' former associate editor for arts and entertainment. You can reach editor Matt Comer via arts@goqnotes.com or editor@goqnotes.com.