Reception and “Life Don’t Have to End.”
The reception: Maryland Leading the Way honored Maryland’s active approach to address the HIV epidemic from the state, local and campus levels and included the launch of the book "Life Don’t Have to End." a compilation of photographs, testimonies and quotes of persons living with HIV in Baltimore.
The “Life Don’t Have to End.” Contributors
"Life Don’t Have To End." is a compilation of stories, images, and wisdom from HIV positive men and women. Over a two-year period, more than 60 courageous individuals from the JACQUES Initiative of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine dictated their personal life stories to Cricket Barrazotto, a friend to the JACQUES Initiative and photographer, for the purpose of compiling a book. These contributors wanted their voices and stories to be inspirational to others. The book speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit and body. Readers are exposed to tragedy and triumph as they share in the intimate journeys of the book’s contributors.
Additionally, Ms. Barrazotto spent a year teaching photography to several of the book’s contributors. It is the clients’ photographic imagery that illustrates the book. The photographers’ artwork from "Life Don’t Have To End." will be showcased during the Leadership in HIV Summit Reception.
The “Life Don’t Have to End.” Photographers
The photographers are clients of the JACQUES Initiative of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine who are proud to share their names and their artistic talent through their photographs and their stories.
“I like taking pictures. I have fun and a wonderful time doing it. At one time in life, I thought I wanted to work with kids, but being with the photography group, going to different locations, and taking all kinds of interesting pictures, made me feel that photography is something that I could seriously do. With the help of my peers, I am learning how to have patience and peace in my life, and doing photography really gives me that peace of mind.”
Darlene describes herself as a proud, 41-year old female with HIV/AIDS. She calls herself a people person who likes to help others. She has a strong faith in God and is happily engaged in her church work.
Albert describes himself as a grateful Muslim, an artist, a good friend, a warm-hearted and generous man. Albert’s first experience using a camera was in July 2012 when he joined the Photography Seminar at the JACQUES Initiative. Every Thursday Albert joined a cluster of other JACQUES clients to learn about the art of photography and then go out in the streets of Baltimore to take pictures. He reports that he is drawn to nature scenes, the homeless, and street scenes.
“The camera has given me the chance to look and see life from a different perspective. The beauty of creation can be captured through an image. Being behind a camera gave me a new dimension to see and appreciate art.”
Kithia Renea Gray
Renea describes herself as being blessed to still be alive, living out the adventure of life through her photography and her volunteering. She feels she has finally found her purpose. She has come full circle. She’s smiling.
“I first had an inking for photography when I was in high school, but I never followed through with it until much later in life when I attended the JACQUES Photography Seminar. In the seminar, I was asked, ‘What do you want to say with each shot, and what do you want others to see from my photos?’ It’s a new adventure every time I hold up the camera. When I look through the lens my eye becomes attached to the camera, and I see through a whole different light. The art of photography has become both a source of inspiration and an outlet to me.”
P.S. She reports that she has a goal to become Baltimore’s mayor in 2020.
Elliot “Lee” Nichols
Elliot Lee Nichols is a great-grandfather, a volunteer, a speaker at many substance abuse meetings, a good friend to many, and a man willing to give a helping hand to anyone and everyone.
“I really like taking pictures. I used to carry an instant camera around in my pocket years ago. I wanted to continue to do photography, but didn’t have a camera. The Photography Seminar at JACQUES really brought it out of me. When I’m taking pictures I feel real comfortable now. I enjoy keeping a camera with me. It’s fun and it’s stimulating. I enjoy taking pictures especially of my family.”
Calvin describes himself as being easy-going, a good listener, and a voice for others living with HIV.
“I didn’t know anything about photography. I didn’t think that I could do it. Then one day the JACQUES photographers invited me to come on a photo shoot. I went out with everyone else and found out it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. And I got some good pictures. Everything came out excellent. This experience has meant that I am more willing to participate in other activities and volunteering at JACQUES. It built confidence in me. I now see that I can do something, really go for it, and achieve success.”