For the past 22 years I have been building places for people to gather and to heal. In 1992, I was invited by the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) to create a ritual to honor A Day Without art. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I was about to find out. I went to the quarries in Quincy, where I had grown up and gathered large blocks stone to scatter throughout the vast space of the BCA Cyclorama. During the day I invited people to carry a stone to the center of the room, feel it’s weight and to build a cairn in the center of the room to mark the significance of the day. I noticed two women trying to lift a large piece of stone, probably weighing around 120 lbs. I offered to help and they politely declined. A young man, ringing a gong every 16 minutes to mark the rate of HIV infections in 1992 , also offered to help. Again the women declined. I offered a third time and one of the women turned to me and said ” You don’t get this do you? Her son, my nephew just died form AIDS. this is our weight.
I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I realized in this moment what I was called to do as an artist.