AIDS Affects U.$. All -- The photography and Words of Morgan Alexander

A Project of The International Humanities Center

The Photography of
Morgan Alexander

Funding & support provided by:

National AIDS Fund
New Mexico Community Foundation
People of Color AIDS Foundation
Cuba AIDS Project
Caribbean Medical Transport
International AIDS Empowerment
International Humanities Center
Rolston Family Fund
The Wright House Wellness Center
New Mexico POZ Coalition
Border Land AIDS Services Team

is a poet / photographer.

From 1982-1990, she was the staff photographer for The Ojai Foundation. In 1988, she photographed in El Salvador with Medical Aid for El Salvador, a Los Angeles based Prosthetics Project, providing prosthesis to land mine victims & returned again 1994 to monitor the elections. In 1989-1994 she photographed at The Hartford Street Zen Center and The Maitri Hospice for People with Aids in the heart of the Castro District in San Francisco and The Ambassador Hotel, a single-room occupancy hotel in the Tenderloin.
In 2004, she traveled to Cuba with the Cuba AIDS Project and to Juarez, Mexico where she continued her AIDS photographic project. She lives in Ojai, California.


               B.A., English Literature, University of Michigan

               M.A., Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies
               University of Michigan, Theatre

               Acting Company: San Francisco Actors Workshop &
               The Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, New York
               Studied acting with Lee Strasberg & Paul Mann,
               Voice Production with Marian Rich & Kristin Linklater

               American Center for the Alexander Technique, taught
               Alexander Technique & Voice Production
               at Harvard University, Columbia University,
               New York University, New School for Social Research,
               Marymount College,
               Philadelphia Theater of the Living Arts,
               Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

               Center for Postural Integration, studied Connective Tissue
               Manipulation with Jack Painter. San Francisco
               Gestalt with Stella Resnick & Jack Rosenberg
               Hakomi (Body Oriented Psychotherapy) with Ron Kurtz
               Postural Integration Trainer in Los Angeles & Ojai, California,
               (Co-founder and trainer, Energenesis Institute)

               Ventura College, Photography and Art Departments

               Best student photograph, Ventura College

               Oliver Gagliani Zone System Workshops

               Staff photographer, Ojai Foundation, Ojai, California

               Medical Aid for El Salvador, prosthetics project

               Vanilla Custard : poetry and photographs,
               Floating Island Press, Point Reyes Station/
               Cedarville, California
                Cuba AIDS Project: staff photogrpaher

                Caribbean Medical Transport, staff photographer

I began working on this project in 1989 when I first met Issan Dorsey at the Ojai Foundation where I was staff photographer. Joan Halifax, who was then the director, took me aside saying "please take a photograph of Issan." Issan, Kijun Steven Allen and Zenshin Philip Whalen started Maitri Hospice, the first AIDS hospice in America founded by zen buddhists; their zendo, Hartford Street Zen Center, was next door. Issan was a student of Shunruyu Suzuki-roshi and dedicated his life to compassionate dying; he died in 1990 from complications due to AIDS. A book, entitled Street Zen; The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey by David Schneider (Shambhala ) was published in 1993.

I traveled to San Francisco for several years to document that period of the epidemic. In addition to the work that I did at the Maitri Hospice, I spent time at the Ambassador Hotel, a single room occupancy hotel on the corner of Eddy and Mason Streets, a last-resort-before-the-street hotel in the Tenderloin where a $400-a-month room got you off the street, hot meals and minimal medical care. In the heart of the Tenderloin, teeming with XXX-rated movies, hustlers, dealers, and street people, the Ambassador had all the social problems of the city rolled up into one bleak building--drugs, prostitution, homelessness, vagrancy, stabbings, muggings, theft, arson and AIDS. These are throw-aways, people whose families don't ever want to hear from them again, junkies, drag queens, hustlers--the poor street folks of America many people ignore or don't even know exist­shadow people with an extraordinary elegance I have not seen elsewhere.

With the advent of the AIDS cocktail and the needle exchange programs, untold lives have been extended but funds are always being reduced and now barebacking and bug chasing have reappeared again in the gay community. Caucasians, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, all sexual persuasions­AIDS is everywhere. Getting AIDS is NOT badge of honor. You do NOT want to get infected. It is a life-threatening mistake to be fooled into thinking that pills can keep the virus at bay forever. Living with AIDS is a life not to be wished for or sought after. There is NO known cure and may never be. All the opportunistic infections have always existed and the real cure lies in the eradication of poverty, malnutrition and unclean water/sanitation. At that point in time, we will have no disease of any kind.

For the past 13 years, I have exhibited my AIDS photographs, mostly in California and am happy that many people have seen them. Now it is time for them to make their own journey across the United States and around the world so that people who do not ordinarily go to art galleries or museums, may see them in places where art is not usually shown, places like community centers, soup kitchens, library entrances, government centers, rape crisis centers, jail lobbies, etc. I call this "accidental art" because folks come upon them by accident. These are the people I want to reach.

All Photographs Copyright © 2004 Morgan Alexander
AIDS Affects U.$. All is a project of The International Humanities Center. IHC is a tax-exempt public charity as recognized by the Internal Revenue Service under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Therefore, donations in any amount to IHC-sponsored projects are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Click HERE to get to our DONATIONS page.

Exhibitions: AIDS Affects U.$. All : Photographs and text

               The Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, California,
               funded by California Council on the Humanities
               The San Francisco Foundation and The Wells Fargo Foundation.

               Johnson State College, Johnson, Vermont

               Helen Lindhurst Gallery,
               University of Southern California
               (AIDS juried group show)
               Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies

               Dance Palace, Point Reyes Station, California

               Will Geer Shakespeare Theater, Topanga, California. AIDS benefit

               Oxnard College, (Library entrance) Oxnard, California
               AIDS Awareness Month

               STOP AIDS Project, San Francisco,
               Queer Nation bus poster

               Gay & Lesbian Community Center, Ventura, California
               AIDS Awareness Month & World AIDS Day

               Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico
               Paramount Lounge, Gay Pride Week, Santa Fe
               Misericordia y Vida AIDS Hospice, Juarez, Mexico
               La Tenda di Cristo, Juarez, Mexico
               El Paso Museum of Art
               La Fe Culture and Technology Center, El Paso, TX.
               The Wright House Wellness Center, Austin, Texas
               World AIDS Day 2004

               Grants from The National AIDS Fund and
               Rolston Family fund with assistance
               from The New Mexico Community Foundation and
               People of Color AIDS Foundation (POCAF) &
               International AIDS Empowerment, El Paso, Texas

               Santa Fe Roundhouse AIDS Conference
               New Mexico POZ Coalition, Billy Griego AIDS Act,
               at Garretts Desert Inn

               Sierra Vista Black American History Month
               Black American AIDS Awareness Day - Feb 7

               Southwest Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri
               Meyer Library

               December 1-15
               World AIDS Day
               University of California, Santa Barbara at the Women's Center
               California Lutheran University, Kwan Fong Gallery of Art and Culture

               Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)
               International Day of Violence Against Women, Mexico City
               Gallery of the Discotheque, "Cabaretito VIP", (Zona Rosa) Mexico City

               December 9-12
               AIDS in Culture II Conference, Enkidu magazine, Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico
               In the permanent collection,
               Archives of Santa Maria de Papantla, Veracruz

               Art Barn, Ventura, California 2005