25 Years of Art and Understanding

Happy Silver Anniversary A&U!

Some of you might know that I’m Arts Editor of A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine, but I’ve been writing for the publication for almost fifteen years and counting. And along the way, I’ve got to meet fantastic people, mentors, and discover my passion in life. I’m not kidding!

Some might also know that my interest in HIV and AIDS started back in 1986, when I attended an AIDS conference in Europe, together with my mother. The idea (Mom’s idea at least) was for me to follow in my parents’ footsteps and study medicine. Needless to say that didn’t happen, but something else did.

In 1991 I made the biggest decision I have ever had to make. Ever since 1991, which, by the way, is the debut year of A&U Magazine, I started to look at my life through a before-and-after prism. I don’t think I’ll ever regret the choice I made that year, regardless of the obstacles that followed. Then, in 2002 I believe, I was living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and without being aware of it at the time, just about to start a new chapter in my life. I had already started writing for a few small publications, and was interested in discovering something that I was truly interested in and worth writing about. So one day, I was crisscrossing Harvard Square, when I passed by one of the newsstands placed around the square. And that’s when I noticed a copy (my first) of A&U Magazine. It seemed tucked away, all the way in the back, among piles of other magazines. On its cover I recognized Dolly Parton–who can miss that hair–and I remembered I’d seen her in person at Dollywood. Like many others, perhaps, I wondered what the A and the U in A&U stood for, and I bought that copy.

Once I got home, which was a relatively short walk and a train station away from Harvard Square, I started flipping through the pages of A&U–started with the cover and couldn’t put it down until I got to the back cover. When I was done, I had one of those ‘where have you been all my life’ kind of feelings. I think I had my ‘aha’ moment, like all the tiny pieces of my cracked (until then) universe were finally coming together to tell me something, to tell me that I finally found what I was looking for–my passion (or my obsession as some might call it, and that’s ok).

But the desire to write for A&U kind of almost crashed and evaporate upon starting the actual process of contacting the editor. To my surprise, he responded, and I ended up with my first assignment–to interview long-term survivor and activist Joel Rothschild for A&U. The article was published in A&U’s October 2003 issue.

And that’s how it started. My wonderful managing editor has become a mentor, a person I look up to, and a beautiful and necessary constant in my life.

Over the years, I’ve got to write not only feature articles and reviews, but also cover stories, and to photograph amazing people, too, for the magazine, too. In 2014 I became the Arts Editor of A&U. That in itself remains a humbling experience, one I’m thankful for each and every day.

 

Here are a few of my favorite A&U stories I’ve covered over the years:

My very first article written for A&U Magazine, Scratching the Surface of the Divine an interview with award-winning author Joel Rothschild

Interview with artist activist Nancer LeMoins. This article was one of the ten I submitted to a call for artists through which I became part of the Undetectable Flash Collective.

Interviewed and photographed Athlete Ally ambassador and activist Amazin Lethi

Interview with activist Avram Finkelstein, ACT UP activist and co-founder of Silence = Death collective.

Photographed PrEP pioneer Damon L. Jacobs. Article by A&U’s Editor at Large Chip Alfred.

Interview with artist Mario Sostre.

Interview with ACT UP photographer Bill Bytsura.

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Interview with activist, award-winning legally blind photographer Kurt Weston. I interviewed him first in 2005, and then a few years later.

Covering (re)Presenting AIDS event in New York City.

Representing AIDS. Bags. Photo by Alina Oswald, published in A&U Magazine.
Representing AIDS. Bags. Photo by Alina Oswald, published in A&U Magazine. (I used scotch tape to ‘glue’ the bags to the door)

Interview with photographer Lester Blum and artistic director Vladimir Rios for several of their beautiful projects.

Photographed and interviewed activist and escape artist Daniel Bauer.

Photographing Daniel Bauer exclusively for A&U Magazine.
The Magic Box. Photo by Alina Oswald, originally published in A&U Magazine.

Photographed and interviewed activist Jennifer Flynn Walker.

Interview with Timothy Ray Brown, the only person cured of HIV, for the October 2016 cover of A&U. Photos by A&U’s Senior Editor Sean Black.

Covering Faces of HIV traveling exhibit, reconnecting with activists (and friends) while at it.

Interview with celebrity photographer Greg Gorman for the January 2016 cover of A&U. Photos by A&U’s Senior Editor Sean Black.

The above are just a few of my favorite things. Hopefully others will follow.

 

Happy silver anniversary A&U! And to many more.

 

 

 

Alina Oswald

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