• The Concept: What’s
Up With the Artwork?
• About the Artist: joe average
• About the Artwork: My Thinking Cap (Life
In 2007, the AIDS Walk for Life
decided to redesign the creative look and feel of the event. Many
ideas were discussed, but one concept stood out from the crowd—a
concept that fit perfectly into both the history and the mission
of the AIDS Walk for Life.
Each year, the AIDS Walk for Life will select a
piece of artwork from a different Canadian HIV-positive artist to
grace all of our national promotional materials. This artwork will
serve as a link between the AIDS Walk for Life and the very people
we are trying to help, and will help the general public relate to
the event in an intimate and meaningful way. Moreover, the selected
artwork will be displayed on promotional materials all across the
country, helping support Canadian HIV-positive artists and increasing
their national exposure.
To honour his role as a pioneer in the Canadian
HIV/AIDS movement, and to celebrate the significant contributions
he has made to the history of the AIDS Walk for Life, we chose a
piece of artwork from acclaimed Canadian HIV-positive artist joe
average to inaugurate our new creative concept for 2007. The
piece is called My Thinking Cap (Life with HIV).
For over a decade, joe average has contributed
many of his images to the AIDS Walk for Life in Vancouver. In so
doing, joe average and his art have created a symbolic
imagery and tradition for the grassroots-based fundraising work
in the AIDS community there.
The AIDS Walk for Life would like to thank joe
average for his contribution and invite other Canadian HIV-positive
artists to become part of a new, national tradition with the AIDS
Walk for Life. For information on how to submit artwork to be considered
for next year’s AIDS Walk for Life, please click
joe average is a Canadian
artist who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Diagnosed with
HIV at age 27, joe made the decision to commit the rest
of his life to art, and challenged himself to live solely by the
proceeds of his art.
Inspired by Native artists in British Columbia,
joe average plays with the simplicity of graceful lines
and curves and the emotional impact of bright and primary colours.
He is known for his cheerful, colourful, cartoon-like work, including
images of flowers, animals, insects, and people.
Increasingly well-known across
Canada and the world, joe average’s art has captured
the attention of art critics, celebrities, the public, and even
royalty. His art graced the first national AIDS awareness poster
in Canada in 1991, and the art he created for the XI International
Conference on AIDS in Vancouver became Canada’s first AIDS
postage stamp in 1996.
joe average has received many awards and
honours, including civic merit awards, the Caring Canadian Award
(1998), and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Community
Achievement (2002). Vancouver's mayor pronounced November 3, 2002
as “joe average Day,” and he was honoured as
one of two Grand Marshals of the Vancouver Pride Parade in August
In addition to the AIDS Walk for Life, joe
frequently donates his work to other charitable causes, including
the Vancouver International Children’s Festival, A Loving
Spoonful (a charity that provides meals to people living with HIV/AIDS
and other terminal illnesses), and Vancouver's annual Art for Life
auction. And if you have travelled around Vancouver, you may even
recognize joe’s artwork that graces both Davie Village
and Granville Island.
For more information, please visit joe’s web site
:: click artwork
to enlarge ::
A self-portrait, My Thinking
Cap (Life with HIV) is one of joe average’s
works that speaks specifically to his personal experience of living
with HIV/AIDS. At the same time, it speaks universally to the human
need to love and be loved, to live with health, and to have a sense
of purpose, safety, and community in our lives.
My Thinking Cap (Life with HIV) contains
the image of cap on a man’s head, with the cap sectioned out
similar to a phrenology diagram (the theory that believed certain
parts of the brain related to personality and other human characteristics).
The elements in the thinking cap speak to the many components of
life that both determine and constitute health, and to the range
of life experiences that are vital for maintaining balance and quality
of life. Living without illness, many of us may take these elements
for granted, but they may become increasingly important to us as
our health is compromised.
On the man’s face, where a nose should
be, a set of pills sits, securing the thinking cap. Vital to the
experience of staying alive, these represent joe average’s
3TC, d4T and AZT pills – one of many cocktail regimens joe
average has taken to treat HIV over the course of his life.
As joe average explains: “When I
first started the cocktail treatment, I did a few images about AIDS
– including My Thinking Cap (Life with HIV) –
because I wanted that out of me a little bit. For the most part
though, my images aren’t so much AIDS-related – they’re
more about how the child in me wants to see the world: happy and
with love. There is so much communication with colour. Over the
years I’ve learned how much of a language colour is. Colour
creates joy in me and it creates joy in other people.”
The AIDS Walk for Life chose this particular piece
of joe’s art because it speaks directly to the work
AIDS service organizations are doing across Canada: serving and
supporting the needs of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS,
so they, too, may experience quality of life. That is why we walk—for
Please click below to find artwork from other years.