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The Art of AIDS - A Man Remade

The Art of AIDS - A Man Remade

Previous << | >> Next Terrence Gore's r'sum' is a collage of his diverse interests. The 46-year-old Philadelphia native has worked as a hairstylist with models and celebrities, he's excelled in interior design, he's curated gallery shows and sold artwork by well-known African-American artists like Allen Stringfellow and Frank Louissaint, he's studied modern dance, and to top it all off he's accomplished in the culinary arts. An insatiable curiosity has taken him and a pair of trusty Rollerblades to the four corners of the globe, where he's sped through various cultures and picked up many varied treasures along the way.  'I just gained more and more momentum, becoming inspired with beauty,' he says of his peripatetic days, 'whether with a single-panel painting or a building or a person dressed nicely.' Then suddenly it seemed all his rich aesthetic pursuits'and quite possibly his life as well'would come to an end. In 2005 he was in a dance class when he felt a numbness in the big toe of his right foot. The numbness spread over the right side of his body and affected his vision. He was soon diagnosed HIV-positive, and subsequent tests showed he was suffering from a typically fatal nerve-degeneration disorder known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. A biopsy identified a lesion on the left hemisphere of his brain that has caused widespread numbness and paralysis on the right side of his body to this day. Initially given a short time to live, he was in the hospital for a year and a half and spent nine days in a coma. But he managed to speed by the stop sign before him, Rollerblades or not. When Gore was well enough, a friend took him some art supplies. Using his left hand (Gore is right-handed), he began to experiment with watercolors. Now living on disability, he's remade himself as a fine artist and, in doing so, has found his voice. HIV, he says, is the best thing that ever happened to him. 'It appeared that I had everything in the past: traveling the world, being able to acquire whatever I wanted. But there was some sort of void inside me. I just decided that once I came out of the coma and I realized that I was alive, I asked God, 'What is it for me to do?'' Gore has devoted much of his work to collages, in which he brings elements of his travels home to his canvas. The very act of artistic creation, he says, in turn communicates the hopeful message of his survival to others. In addition, his dedication to juicing and homeopathic herbs as a source of rejuvenation lends an added benefit to his work; he often takes skins of fruits he's consumed'like a banana or mango'preserves them, and applies them to his artwork so that they resemble, for example, human skin. 'There isn't anything that goes to waste,' he says. 'Everything has a new life, even after it's consumed.' His own new life as an artist, he says, provides not just occupational and physical therapy, but an emotional and spiritual release as well. 'I think we're all going to die from living, ultimately,' he says. 'And if in fact I die from PML, or whatever, I still have to live well. I have to do what I can right now. That's why I live my best life.' Previous << | >> Next
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