June 5, 2008
Albert Winn’s photography captures the intertwining influences of Judaism and illness
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"Jewish-ness, gayness, AIDS-ness -- these are all parts of me. I can't pretend they're not there, and I needed to have my Jewish-ness inform my work, just as I needed to have my gayness and my AIDS-ness be a part of the package. That's what I was thinking about while I was having my blood drawn. That's got to be there," Winn said.
Winn's work in "My Life Until Now" earned him a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, which helped to sustain him through times that were literally and dangerously lean.
"I was gaunt," Winn said. "I weighed 98 pounds when I won the NEA grant. There was no way I could've worked -- in so many ways I was extraordinarily lucky."
Winn's illness began to respond to the new generation of medicines in 1999, and his health has improved steadily since then. Around that time he and Scott also moved to the Mount Washington neighborhood, where they share a comfortable tri-level house with two cats and three Cocker Spaniels.
If the outside viewer were to remark that Winn's current life looks somewhat conventional, the artist would reply that his queer sensibility and keen eye for subversive detail are still very much intact.
Referring to the plasticine look of the photography that accompanied a recent New York Times Magazine cover story on young gay newlyweds in Massachusetts, Winn said, "I don't want to live that kind of life. Everything seems too perfect -- kind of like Jews who aspire to be like WASPs. What's special about being gay is that way of seeing the world differently. I don't ever want to lose sight of that."
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