Blood Mirror: organized by Jordan Eagles
Presented at Trinity Wall Street, November 2–December 1, 2015
Nine gay, bisexual, and transgender men donate blood for a sculpture to protest the FDA’s ban on blood donations from non-celibate gay and bisexual men. Watch video
Trinity Wall Street’s Congregational Arts Committee presents the New York City premiere of Blood Mirror: organized by Jordan Eagles, an exhibition featuring a seven-foot-tall, interactive, monolithic sculpture created in response to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on blood donations from non-celibate gay and bisexual men. The exhibition, curated by Ryan Campbell, chair of Trinity's Visual Arts committee, also includes a documentary film by activist/filmmaker Leo Herrera, with musical score by The Carry Nation, featuring the stories of the nine men who donated blood for the sculpture.
The Rev. John Moody, who has served at Trinity for more than 40 years, first as a staff member for the arts and now as a parishioner, is one of nine men who participated in the creation of Blood Mirror by donating their blood.
The exhibition will be on view from November 2, 2015 (All Souls’ Day), through December 1, 2015 (World AIDS Day), in the south vestibule of Trinity Church.
In 1983, as an early response to the AIDS crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implemented a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men. More than 30 years later, on May 13, 2015, the FDA proposed an updated policy that would allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood, but only if they are celibate for a full year, and regardless of marital status. There is no celibacy requirement for heterosexuals, regardless of their risk for contracting HIV. A UCLA Williams Institute study found that lifting the ban completely could save up to a million lives annually.
In 2014-2015, artist Jordan Eagles enlisted a group of nine gay, bisexual, and transgender men, all with compelling and unique life stories, and asked each to donate a standard pint of blood for the Blood Mirror sculpture in protest of the FDA’s ban. Viewers of Blood Mirror can see themselves reflected in the sculpture through the blood of the nine donors. This blood has been encased in resin and is fully preserved, ensuring that the organic material will not change over time. A totem of science and equality, Blood Mirror is an archive of the donors’ blood that confronts the 32-year history of the FDA’s ban. Through the work in this exhibition, Eagles, his creative collaborators, and blood donors aim to inspire dialogue about the FDA’s policy and its proposed revision. Presented in the sacred context of Trinity Church, Blood Mirror invites a spiritual reflection and personal confrontation with one’s ability to see the individual as part of the collective lifeblood of the body of humanity.
“I wanted to create a sculpture that would become a time capsule,” Eagles said, “documenting this moment in time, while showing that this blood could have been used to save lives. For me, the sculpture is a work in progress; it will never be finished until the FDA’s blood donation policy is fair for all people.
“Bringing this work to Trinity enables us to expand the conversation beyond policy and science to address the intrinsic spirituality in blood and the connection that we all have with one another. In the spirit of giving and sharing inherent in donating blood, the nature of this project is one of collaboration, both with the creative team and medical supervisors, and especially with the nine donors who selflessly and generously contributed their blood and voices.”
About the Donors
The nine men who donated their blood to this project are:
- The Rev. John Moody, 89-year-old openly gay retired priest and a part of the community at Trinity Wall Street, New York City, for more than 40 years
- Kelsey Louie, CEO, Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), the world’s first and leading provider of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and advocacy
- Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., co-founder of GMHC who wrote the first press reports on AIDS in the early ’80s
- CPT Anthony Woods, served two terms in Iraq, discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (reinstated to service in 2014), Obama White House Fellow, 2012 Congressional candidate
- Loren Rice, LGBT activist and artist, transgender man, married to Ethan Rice, also a transgender man, for seven years
- Oliver Anene, LGBT activist from Nigeria on political asylum in the United States
- Ty Spicha, gay man whose identical straight twin brother is eligible to donate blood
- Blue Bayer, polysexual father of two
- Howard Grossman, M.D., internist at AlphaBetterCare, former director of the American Academy of HIV Medicine, one of the first physicians to see cases of AIDS in the United States
Activist and filmmaker Leo Herrera collaborated with Eagles and filmed the blood donation of each of the nine men. This footage, Blood Mirror: Raw Footage (12-21-14, 3-15-15), archives the act as protest, and—through interviews with each donor—documents their unique personal stories, and their perspectives on equality, science, history, and policy. This work runs 44:30 on a continuous loop. After previewing a selection of this raw footage, MSNBC commissioned Herrera to create a short film for its docu-series Shift. This 6-minute film also includes additional footage of Eagles creating the sculpture Blood Mirror.
“This work is about how gay and bisexual men overcome stigma through gathering and art,” Herrera said. “It represents homophobia so deep that it infected science itself and spawned a fear of our most precious fluids. For gay and bisexual men to be healthy of mind and body, it is crucial we see each other reflected in our brothers so we can overcome the anxieties specific to our people. Blood Mirror is a symbol of the love of culture and community.”