the case of socio-political artist Larry Jens Anderson, a stripped-down version of his “Dance of Death” pieces.
“The first three successful AIDS drawings, or drawings about AIDS that I did, were stick figures made out of knives,” Anderson said. “In my studio I had this Crock Pot full of kitchen knives. I went in one day and I dumped them out and I started making stick figures out of them, with knives for penises. That could be a rape thing; the danger of sex. I liked him a lot.”
The original exhibit included those drawings and more, surrounded by knives and hypodermic needles stuck into the wall. It was intensely personal, Anderson said.
“One of the things that artists can do, and have done for centuries even if it’s uncomfortable, they’ll paint it or draw about it,” he said. “With AIDS, people can have it and never know it and it may manifest into a disease or it may not, depending on the person. And these knives … that was a metaphor for disease, or invasion.”