The health crisis which in recent years has depleted the ranks of the art community, has not received much formal notice in art education journals. A continuing stigma remains attached to AIDS due to its appearance among gay men and IV drug users. Many people pretend it is not there. My own life has become consumed by it, due to the illness of many, many friends and associates. For nearly two years, because of the enormity of the crisis combined with relatively little action on state and federal levels and the mounting grief and loss in my own life, I began to feel that art education is a silly field contributing very little to society in general and contributing nothing to end this awful disease. I decided, despite my advanced age and status at the university, to work on a nursing degree and leave teaching, finger paint and clay to other people. In nursing, I found an advancing technological approach to treating human organisms, not human beings. Wanting to work with people, I switched to social work. In the meantime, I have been volunteering on the National AIDS Hotline, handing diverse: crisis calls ranging from suicide threats to education about the virus and its effects. I have also volunteered to spend time with the dying at the Brownlie Hospice, in a move to do something else very concrete. I may still complete mv MSW degree to work with PWAs (People with AIDS) as a professional social worker. Curiously, however, this mid-life career crisis hits led to a re-evaluation of the importance of art and art education in the lives of every person I know including myself. As with the dying themselves, there seems little time for game playing and intellectual gymnastics. Our human limitations, our financial constraints and the unrelenting, destructive, lethal character of this particular virus, form a metaphor drawing attention to why we do what we do and why it matters.
© The Author