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Fighting AIDS with Art

The David Serko Project

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Photographer Peter Serko has had a lot more on his mind lately than his art. His brother David died of AIDS in 1992 at the age of 32. "For 20 years I have wanted to do a project of some sort about my brother's life and death. I finally found a way to do it in 2012, using the power of social media," Serko said. He launched The David Serko Project in February. An online collaboration among David's many friends, the Project is gathering stories, images, and other materials that tell the story of his life through the voices of those that knew him.

"I want my children, and my nieces and nephews to understand what an amazing person their uncle was," said Serko.

Recently Serko discovered online a photo of the New York police arresting and dragging David at the Act Up 1987 Wall Street protest. "No one, not even David's activist friends who were there that day had ever seen this photo," said Serko, "I burst into tears when I saw it. The photo says so much about who my brother was; it is a remarkable discovery."

Finding the photo led Serko to attend the April 25th Act Up protest to commemorate the

25th Anniversary of Act Up's first Wall Street protest. "After discovering the photo I knew I had to go to the event and participate," Serko said.

After returning from the event in New York, Serko said, "Wow..what an amazing 48 hours! It exceeded my expectations in many ways." He invited his nephew Jason to come, and he now has a video for the David Serko Project of Jason telling how inspired he was by the photo of David being arrested and how he has shared that with others in his work.  "He told me this story while we are standing around waiting for the protest to start moving. That is exactly what I hoped would happen, that my kids and my nieces and nephews would learn about who he was."  

He also videotaped a man who approached him after seeing his David Serko Project banner and told him that he was arrested that day with David. "(He proceeded) to tell the story of their arrest and jail time together." 

Serko says he owes two people credit for any success he's  had as an artist, his wife and his brother. "My brother's very last words to me were ‘listen to your heart.' It took me many years to understand what he meant and incorporate it into my life."  

For more information on the David Serko Project go to

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