Project Runway’s Mondo Guerra reveals his new art installation at the 2016 United States Conference on AIDS
Runway All Star winner and HIV advocate Mondo Guerra revealed a new art installation showcasing the changing face of HIV at the 2016 United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Hollywood, FL on September 15-18, which is the largest national HIV/AIDS patient gathering,
The “Positivitree” installation consisted of designed “yarn-bombed” trees, which signify courage, strength, and the progress being made in medical science in HIV, as well as personal growth. Mondo designed the installation as part of his work with the Merck (my client) I Design program, a national HIV educational campaign encouraging people living with HIV to have open and honest discussions with their doctor and to be vocal. Mondo took a moment with PRIDE & Equality to share his excitement about the installation, what it meant to him and what future project he has in store.
Tell us what this installation meant to you to create?
The POZITIVITREES installation is a story about my journey living with HIV. It is a reflection of all who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Ultimately it is a story of STRENGTH/COURAGE/COMMUNITY. Most importantly, it is meant to be a conversation starter about living with HIV and the importance of finding your voice and not being afraid to ask questions and share information.
What was the process in creating this installation?
This was a very exciting project for me because it was my first yarn bombing installation. I wanted to do something that is very true to my story and that show’s growth through the process of being diagnosed with HIV. I used the pattern design I created on Project Runway 8 as my inspiration. The first design represents the beginning or a Foundation and is mostly white, signifying questions. The black that is introduced represents the questions beginning to get answered. The second design introduces the color red, which is deeply associated with the HIV/AIDS community. It represents the advancements being made – personally accepting and in terms of treatment. The third is a recreation of my POZITIVITY design and signifies courage, strength, and advocacy. Towards the top of the design are angels that represent those that have been lost to AIDS. I worked with a fabulous team in northern California to execute the knitting. The entire process felt so natural. The energy of the project was very therapeutic.
Working with I Design for a few years now, what would you say is still a misconception when it comes to HIV/AIDS?
I believe one of the misconceptions still out there is that HIV/AIDS only affects the gay community, when in fact, everyone is affected by HIV. So often people don’t realize the importance of having an ongoing dialogue: with our loved ones, with our partners, and with our healthcare team. It’s important to know your HIV status and have conversations with your partners. It’s important to have open conversations with your healthcare team about your medical history, other health conditions you may have, and even other medications you might be taking beyond your HIV therapy. With the proper treatment, it is possible to live a full life with HIV. You can go to www.projectidesign.com and download a variety of tools to help have these important conversations.
What upcoming projects do you have coming up?
I will continue to do projects that have a social impact. Right now I’m working with I Design on a project for World AIDS Day (which is December 1st), which I’m excited about and hope to be able to share more about soon. In my design life, I am working on an all sizes collection for women inspired by my muses, my mom, and sister.