The National AIDS Memorial has announced Isabel Fatima (Ima) Diawara of Los Angeles as the first recipient of the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award.
The newly created and inspiring program, funded through a multi-year grant from ViiV Healthcare, offers support to artist-activists who are working and committed to making a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We are honored that Ima has been chosen as the first recipient of this award,” said John Cunningham, Executive Director of the National AIDS Memorial. “Her passion and work exemplifies the same pioneering spirit of Mary Bowman that uses art and activism to raise greater awareness about bigotry, stigma and social justice, particularly around the issue of HIV/AIDS.”
The Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award honors the life of Mary Bowman, the poet, advocate, author, singer and young person living with AIDS, who passed away in early 2019 at the age of 30. The award is funded through a multi-year grant from ViiV Healthcare and supports one young artivist, 27 years of age or younger, selected annually, to receive a $5,000 award.
An Afro-Latinx multimedia visual artist and performer, Ima’s creativity explores truth through poeticism, movement, and narrative.
She was selected for the award for her past creative works focused on uplifting marginalized groups such as Black & Indigenous Folx, Queer & LGBTQ Folx, and other oppressed communities.
She is using the grant to originate and develop content that focuses on centralizing HIV+ characters in a dignified, holistic fashion – navigating issues from positive HIV status to substance usage and mental health.
Ima is also working with colleagues to develop a digital library media platform with Black and Brown communities to create visual representation for themselves related to their health and well-being.
Ima’s projects originate from a space of candid reflection & growth. They signify her evolution as a human being.
While some works are straightforward, many of her projects are abstract. She invites audience members to tap into the essence of what they view, rather than follow a linear story, and helps deepen one’s understanding of intuition & senses.
During Covid-19, she has helped deliver Healing Bundles to people facing Covid-19, cancer and other health challenges. Ima has also focused on coalition building throughout the U.S. to create adequate projects and infrastructure that will help redirect how health and art intersect.
The goal is to redefine health and longevity in marginalized populations. Learn more about Ima on her website at www.imadiawara.com.
“This award supports young artists and activists” like Ima who exemplify Mary Bowman’s passion for the arts, as the vehicle for their own HIV/AIDS community work and expression,” said Marc Meachem, Head External Affairs North America ViiV Healthcare. “Like Mary Bowman, Ima is using her own creativity to have a powerful impact in the community through honest conversations about issues that matter through art, expression and culture.”
ViiV Healthcare is a proud supporter of arts and culture programs that engage and inspire individuals and communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and recognizes the power of culture to break down stigma and isolation. A beautifully-produced video tribute to Bowman, created by the National AIDS Memorial through the support of ViiV Healthcare, captures that spirit and Bowman’s life and work.
Born with HIV, Bowman lived out her experiences of growing up and living with HIV (and losing a mother to AIDS) through her art.
As a young, out, woman of color, she was a dynamic, vital voice for the next generation of individuals living with HIV—proud, willing to speak of her own challenges beyond HIV—and also a fierce advocate for other young people with HIV for whom a voice was lacking.
For Bowman, the arts gave her the platform and voice to channel her creative energy, her passion, her truth.
Details about the application process and requirements for the award can be found at www.aidsmemorial.org. Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 awardee. Interested artist-activists must submit a full application by July 15, 2021, to be considered for the award.