Living with Color

Almost two decades ago, my community partner was diagnosed with HIV. Although his journey hasn’t always been smooth sailing, I have been consistently stunned by his beautifully optimistic outlook on life. At first, given what little I had known about HIV/AIDS patients, I was looking for a sad story, a dark past to share, but I found none. My community partner lived life fully and considered his illness simply a “low hum” in the background. His story was a lesson to me about the manifold ways an illness can manifest, as well as the manifold ways we can choose to live with our illnesses.

With bright patches of color pencil contrasting with dark charcoal, my artwork is meant to depict my community partner’s almost infectious positivity despite being diagnosed with what many consider a life-changing disease. The alternating colorful patterns across this portrait are inspired by the style of graphic artist Minjae Lee. Ultimately my piece is a representation of the lessons that my community partner’s story imparted to me, as well as a statement on the myth that “HIV is a death sentence.”

About the Artist: Linda Li

Although from a young age I loved to dabble in anything involving a pencil or brush, I always put my tools aside to follow instead the more traditional path of studying the sciences. In college, I rediscovered my love for the arts in its many forms as a creative outlet for my four-year rollercoaster of emotions. I ended up tacking on a second major of creative writing (my favorite art form) to my biology major, and probably would have tacked on more arts majors if I could have! Now as a rising second-year medical student, and a fledgling devotee of the medical humanities and of narrative medicine, I hope to intertwine the arts and medicine to construct my understanding of the human condition. My art and my writing seek to tell the stories of my patients, as a reminder of my true purpose in pursuing a medical career. For this reason, I took on a SCOPES project, as the first of what I hope to be many tributes to the narratives I will have the privilege of listening to and witnessing.