Fall 2017 Fellow
Fellow: Theodore (Ted) Kerr
Project: What Would an HIV Doula Do? 

ABout

The What Would the HIV Doula Do? collective is a community of artists, activists, academics, chaplains, doulas, health care practitioners, nurses, filmmakers, AIDS Service Organization employees, dancers, community educators, and others from across the movement joined in response to the ongoing AIDS Crisis. We understand a doula as someone in a community who hold space for others during times of transition. For us, HIV is a series of transitions in someone’s life that does not start with being tested or getting a diagnosis, nor end with treatment or death. Foundational to our process is asking questions.

BACKGROUND

 Foundational to WWHIVDD

 Foundational to WWHIVDD

In 2015, upon learning about the growing role of birth, death, abortion, and gender doulas—and, as someone working at the intersection of art, activism and HIV for 15 years in the US and Canada—artist and organizer Theodore Kerr began to ask: WHAT WOULD AN HIV DOULA DO?.

Two years later, with a growing group of friends and stakeholders, he helped found the WHAT WOULD AN HIV DOULA DO? collective (WWHIVDD). For his fellowship he will continue to work with WWHIVDD, while also maintaining his related yet separate practice of AIDS related writing, and organizing.

“Fortune Teller” designed by WWHIVDD member Virgil

“Fortune Teller” designed by WWHIVDD member Virgil

As one of the driving forces behind WWHIVDD, Kerr is committed to working within community to ask the question of What Would an HIV Doula Do? though open meetings, oral history, writing, screenings, art making panels, workshops, art interventions, peer education, and public events. While answers are important, inviting community in as part of the process is a vital and ongoing response to the question that the collective is after. The group believes no one gets HIV alone, so no one should have to deal with it alone.

In his individual work, Kerr often explores how the role of community changed after the 1996 introduction of life saving medication and the ramifications that has had on the ongoing AIDS crisis. WWHIVDD is a response to the reduced community involvement, a resource in the making, and a promise to the future.

 

ARTIST BIO

Canadian born Theodore Kerr is a Brooklyn based writer, organizer and artist whose work focuses on HIV/AIDS, community, and culture. He likes working with others. 

Kerr's writing has appeared in the Village Voice, Women’s Studies Quarterly, The New Inquiry, BOMB, CBC, Lambda Literary, POZ Magazine, The Advocate, Cineaste, The St. Louis American, IndieWire, HyperAllergic, and other publications. In 2016, he won the Best Journalism award from POZ Magazine for his HyperAllergic article on race, HIV, and art. In 2015, Kerr was the editor for an AIDS-focused issue of the We Who Feel Differently journal.

Kerr is a founding member of the What Would An HIV Doula Do? collective, a community of people committed to better implicating community within the ongoing response to HIV/AIDS. Their work has been featured in The Body,  Art in America and POZ magazine.

Creating postcards, posters, stickers, and collages, Kerr's art practice is about bringing together pop culture, photography and text to create fun and meaningful shareable ephemera and images. Collaboration is a big part of Kerr's art practice. He has made work with Zachary Ayotte, L.J. Roberts, Chaplain Christopher Jones, Niknaz Tavakolian, Bridget de Gersigny, Malene Dam and others. He has been in exhibitions curated by Kris Nuzzi, Sur Rodney (Sur), Danny Orendorff and others. Two of his works, in collaboration with Shawn Torres and Jun Bae, are part of DePaul Art Gallery's permanent collection. 

His website is tedkerr.club