|About the Book|
Mary Fishers AIDS activism has taken her around the globe. But it was Africa that changed her, she said after visiting as part of an official delegation and then returning with her two, teenaged sons. From acres of orphans to mourning villages,MoreMary Fishers AIDS activism has taken her around the globe. But it was Africa that changed her, she said after visiting as part of an official delegation and then returning with her two, teenaged sons. From acres of orphans to mourning villages, Fisher breathed in the experience of AIDS in Africa. She experienced the power of ABATAKA -- a pan-African term meaning family, tribe, community, home, belonging – and channeled that power into compelling, courageous art. Mary claimed the name ABATAKA for a book showcasing her African-inspired art works, with reflective essays on each piece. The works, she wrote, were born in the heart of an American woman being embraced by African women. What bonded us was AIDS. Our lives had each, against our own wills, been redefined by a tiny virus we never wanted but now could not escape. These women gave me ABATAKA. Her time in Africa left Fisher inspired and impatient. She poured her feelings into compelling, unflinching art works. And between her Africa visits, she delivered bold testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives: I have seen AIDS - Ive seen it in Africa, in America, and in the mirror. I have looked into the eyes of a thousand orphans. Ive held other mothers who want, like me, not to leave their children. I have smelled the smell of dying. And I have tasted the absolute despair of those who are defined, as I am defined, by the virus. Therefore, I have come to Washington today to ask those of you with power to make a difference... ~ Mary Fisher (April 5, 2000) The agony of AIDS is the backdrop for Fishers recent work, including pieces collected in this book. But above the grim images of wasting and death hangs the miracle of ABATAKA. Fishers Africa-inspired quilts, sculptures and textiles give her soul a place to speak of courage, passion, integrity, hope and humor. In the end, Fishers art stands as a compelling argument that, if we are willing, we can make a difference.