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New York based Graffiti artist, Maxx Moses (who calls himself a “concrete alchemist”), was in Bulawayo with Gary Waterworth Owen as part of a U.S. Embassy program to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS through street art .
Gary (a born and raised ‘Bulawayo Boy’ and fellow artist) inspired Maxx with the local Ndebele word ‘ZENZELE’.(Take responsibility for your life.) Maxx decided to use it in his street art to educate and motivate Community Based Response Ability in addressing HIV/AIDS and its related issues.
Maxx and a selected team of local artists completed art works on the walls of Madlodlo Bar in Makokoba and part of the exterior of the National Gallery in Bulawayo.
The murals were unveiled at a ceremony on 1 December 2011 in the presence of U.S. Ambassador Charles Ray, Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Amen Mpofu, and City Council officials.
The sites also hosted mobile testing units for the public.
“I am excited to be here. Our job as artists is to make people think deeper, feel deeper," said Maxx who goes by the tag: Pose2. Maxx’s artwork has been described by renowned art critic Alexander Salazar as promoting “an environment of longevity, growth, wholeness, and spiritual well-being.” Maxx fuses ‘wild style’ and fine art in his work. He is a well-known innovator in the graffiti and street art industry in the United States, whose work suits virtually any surface, flat or 3D, of any size.
“Worldwide, AIDS activists are focused on creating an AIDS-free generation. In order to do this, we need to use every possible tool to get prevention messages across to young and old alike. Maxx’s work is the perfect medium to do this – it’s innovative, engaging, and certainly eye-catching,” says Michael Brooke, Public Diplomacy Officer at the U.S. Embassy.
Since 2000, the United States government has invested over $245 million in Zimbabwe’s fight against HIV/AIDS. In 2012, the U.S. will contribute an estimated $60 million to the national HIV/AIDS response in Zimbabwe through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), including support for treatment of 80,000 people and interventions to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV for approximately 40,000 women living with HIV/AIDS.
Gary and his son Garreth have long supported and continue to support - the Tshuma’s - a Zimbabwe based family of artists and have curated Tshuma Humour exhibitions in France, Belgium and the U.K. This family of artists have been devastated by HIV/AIDS, yet those who remain produce some of the most humorous and collectable carvings.
There are disturbing attitudes emerging toward HIV/AIDS - Complacency and Disregard. There is a sense that HIV/AIDS is no longer a problem, the data is in, the treatment and prevention strategy appears to be working so let’s move on to the next agenda item. However, we have not yet won the battle against HIV/AIDS and this pervasive attitude threatens to undo many of the gains to date.