Donald Albrecht

Up Against the Wall:
Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster

Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, New York

Up Against the Wall: Art, Activism, and the AIDS Poster offered 165 examples of visually arresting and socially meaningful posters, taken from more than 8,000 held in the collection in the University of Rochester’s River Campus Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation.

The posters, spanning the years from 1982 to the present, showed how social, religious, civic, and public health agencies have addressed the controversial, often contested terrain of the HIV/AIDS pandemic within the public realm. Organizations and creators tailored their messages to audiences, both broad and very specific, and used a wide array of strategies, employing humor, emotion, scare tactics, simple scientific explanations, sexual imagery, and many other methods to communicate powerfully and effectively. A timeline of AIDS history and newly commissioned video interviews with local residents discussing the disease’s impact on them and their community complemented the posters. Accompanied by a 232-page catalog.

Mr. Albrecht developed the show’s themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

>See exhibition catalog

Coverage on WXXI News and in Plus magazine.

Exhibition and graphic designer: Travis Johansen/Memorial Art Gallery
Photographer: Andy Olenek

Donald Albrecht