Activism through POWERFUL WORDS and art.


About the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award

To honor the legacy of Mary Bowman and support other accomplished young and emerging art activists ("artivists") like her, the National AIDS Memorial has partnered with ViiV Healthcare to create the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award. Student and non-student art activists are welcome to apply for this award. These $5,000 awards are intended to support young and emerging artivists each year who exemplify Mary’s passion for the arts as the vehicle for their own HIV/AIDS and/or health and social justice community activism and expression. Recipients of the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award use their art and activism to raise greater awareness about bigotry, stigma, and social justice around the issue of HIV/AIDS and/or health and social inequities that fuel the spread of the disease.

Recipients of the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award will be asked to share the art that was funded by this award within one year after recipient's receipt of funds.  The National AIDS Memorial will have no ownership of the art - we simply wish to share with our funding partner the inspiring work that it supported.

Click here for information about eligibility and application requirements.

In May of 2019, the HIV/AIDS world lost its most promising poet, advocate, author, singer and young person living with AIDS, Mary Bowman. Mary was 30 years old. Born with HIV, she lived out her experiences of growing up and living with HIV (and losing a mother to AIDS) through her art. As a young, out woman of color, she was a dynamic, vital voice for the next generation of individuals living with HIV—proud, willing to speak of her own challenges with not just her own health needs (mental health, social support) —but also a fierce advocate for other young people with HIV for whom a voice was lacking. For Mary, the arts gave her the platform and voice to channel her creative energy, her passion, her truth.

This Award supports arts and culture programs that engage and inspire individuals and communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and recognizes the power of culture to break down stigma and isolation.   Mary Bowman was an icon of hope and resilience, and performed at the 2018 ViiV Healthcare Youth and Community Summit where she inspired leaders across the movement, one of many examples of Mary used her voice and art to make a difference.

Artivism harnesses the critical imagination to design events and strategies that provoke new questions and new meaning in pursuit of more respectful ways of being. As an example, with respect to HIV/AIDS, such artistic statements are frequently borne from a variety of perspectives in terms of gender, sexuality, age, class, ethnicity, and nationality, and wield artistic expression as a tool for combating stigma. Stigma, and all it entails—shame, isolation, embarrassment, exclusion, shunning—remains among the most formidable barriers to fighting the epidemic. Through this Award, we hope to inspire the amazing world of art and activism.

*Please note that the Kaleidoscope platform uses an AI & Plagiarism Detection tool designed to identify plagiarism and AI use in application essay responses. Once an applicant submits their application, this tool will analyze any submitted answers with a word count of 100 or more. This tool utilizes advanced natural language processing technology, also known as NLP, and machine learning algorithms to perform extensive searches across the Internet and various databases. This cutting-edge feature enables detection of AI usage and plagiarism within application submissions.


Learn More About Mary
Application Requirements

• Meet the 2023 Award Recipients and Experience their Artivism

2023 Award Recipient
Jade Duffus
2023 Award Recipient
Indira Ardolic

Read the News Release Announcement

The Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award is funded through the generous support of

For questions about this program please contact Steve Sagaser at