CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 9/23/2021
Thursday, September 23 at 6:30 PM EST, artist Eric Rhein and curator and writer Paul Michael Brown will be guests of the Stonewall Museum & Archives for a Zoom conversation about Rhein's life, artwork and activism. SNMA Executive Director Hunter O'Hanian will join the discussion about the themes in Rhein's recent monograph-memoir, Lifelines, published by Institute 193. The event is free and open to the public. Please register here! A link and password will be emailed to you upon registration.
When Eric Rhein moved to New York in 1980, at age eighteen, he became active in the transformative East Village Arts scene—and his wide-ranging four decades of work are documented in Lifelines. This unique monograph-memoir features intimate photographs taken between 1989 and 2012—including the period of Rhein’s HIV diagnosis, his near death and return to vitality. As a personal response to the AIDS crisis, these compelling portraits highlight tenderness and care as life-saving instincts. Included are related bodies of work: delicate assemblages and wire drawings which often serve as memorials for fallen friends. Rhein’s work embraces connection with nature and cultural heritage—especially drawing on his Kentucky roots and his relationship with his Uncle Lige Clarke—a gay rights pioneer of the 1960s and 70s. Of Rhein’s work, poet Mark Doty has written: “These images affirm the desiring self at a moment when desire had become dangerous…”
Photo by Stephen Churchill Downes.
ABOUT ERIC RHEIN
Eric Rhein has gained international recognition as an artist whose work embodies themes of love, sexuality and identity as explored through his ever-evolving experience with HIV. He mines collective and personal narratives, formulating pieces that are at once poetic and documentary. In 1996 Rhein began his ongoing project Leaves,
a memorial honoring the lives of over 380 individuals he knew who died of complications from AIDS. Rhein has exhibited widely in the United States and abroad, and his work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Huffington Post, ARTnews, Vanity Fair,
and Art in America.
He is included in the Smithsonian Archives of American Art’s Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project. New York Times
critic Holland Cotter wrote of Rhein’s work: “…the combination of art and craft, delicacy and resiliency, feminine and masculine, is exquisitely wrought and is, as it should be, seductive but disturbing.”
Photo by Eric Rhein, July 4, 2017.
ABOUT PAUL MICHAEL BROWN
Paul Michael Brown is a writer and curator based in Lexington, Kentucky. He is the former director of Institute 193 and was the recipient of the 2020 Arts Writer’s Grant. His research and writing has included a focus on queer and self-taught practitioners from the American South. Brown curated the 2019 exhibitions Eric Rhein: Lifelines
at Institute 193 and 21c Lexington, which served as the inspiration for this book.