Blood Works: The Sanguineous Art of Robert Sherer

The medium is the message in these drawings rendered in blood — both HIV- and HIV+.

BY Christopher Harrity

December 03 2012 4:06 AM ET

Robert Sherer likes a challenge. In his earlier Advocate.com Artist Spotlight portfolio of pryographic works (wood burning) the problem of small fires and blistered fingers always looms. Then he began to draw in blood.

Sherer tells the story: "One evening, while trying to remove the blade from an X-Acto razor, it slipped from my hand and stuck straight up in my thigh. When I removed the blade from my leg, a red geyser shot into the air. I must have hit an artery. I quickly collected the squirting liquid in a hermetic container and placed it in the refrigerator. The next day, when I attempted to use it as a drawing medium I found that the pigment instantly coagulated in my quill pen. After some experimentation and consultation with a medical technician, I suspended the liquid in a thinning solution, which helps it to smoothly flow.


Soon after creating my first, drawing in the series I discovered another setback to my medium: when it dries it darkens to brown within a day. It took several weeks of experimentation with sealers and varnishes before I found the best combination to preserve the sanguine freshness of my pigment. I now draw the HIV- blood from my arm with new clean syringes. The HIV+ blood used in some of the artworks is supplied by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous."

The art in this article is from his recently published book, Blood Works, currently available at kennesaw.edu/ksupress and will soon be available on Amazon and at book stores.

Two current exhibitions: "Art, AIDS, America", a nationally traveling museum exhibition co-curated by Jonathan David Katz and Rock Hushka, and the "Head, Shoulders, Genes, Toes" exhibit at the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, guest curated by Judtih Rushin.

For more information: RobertSherer.com

Click though for more from Blood Work.

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