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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion exhibits

OPINION: IU should display this heart-breaking exhibit for longer than a month


Tom Fox dedicated his last month alive to showing what a man living with AIDS looks like. He gave up a month of privacy and serenity to bring light to the disease that was running rampant through the gay community in the ‘80s. His hope was to help just one person open their mind. 

Wild Horse Running: The Courageous Journey of Tom Fox will remain open until Sept. 23 at Maxwell Hall. The exhibit is open from 12 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and displays sixty photographs of Fox, which were taken by Michael A. Schwarts during Fox's last months alive living with AIDS.  

This exhibit is simple and effective. The wooden walls are lined with monochrome photographs of Fox and respective short descriptions. Schwarts’s photographs, set in chronological order, start a couple of months before Fox’s death.  

My only complaint about the entire exhibit is that the room feels a little empty. With only pictures hung on the wall, it might have been better in a smaller, more intimate room.  

[Related: Eskenazi School of Art to present 'Identity: Identify' Friday]

Nevertheless, I learned so much about who Tom Fox was. I left the exhibit feeling fulfilled and as though I gained something from viewing this.  

“I am certainly no activist; only a person living with a serious illness, trying to make the most of my life,” Fox said. 

The exhibit does an incredible job of portraying that side of his personality throughout the entirety of the photographs. In many photos, you can see him making faces or joking around, even while lying in a hospital bed. You see his uplifting spirit and tireless effort to bring joy into others' lives. 

What I thoroughly enjoyed about the exhibit is that it doesn’t just show the good parts of his life. It wouldn’t be accurate. Instead, it shows all the good and the bad. You see him breaking down behind the scenes when nobody was around. Giving into the darkness that this disease comes with.  

The photographs are undoubtedly moving — from the images of him sitting bedside for other AIDS patients to him making jokes even on his sickest day. I felt connected to Fox by the end of the exhibit, making the photos of his death even more heart-wrenching. I had learned to love him and felt as if I lost him when I reached the photos of his death. I had almost wished for a happy ending and held my breath hoping the ending would change.  

[Related: OPINION: Even Sherlock Holmes might struggle to find this exhibition interesting]

Fox grew up in Bloomington and graduated from Bloomington South High School and Indiana University. He is not only a public figure to the rest of the world but also to the Bloomington community. IU students deserve to learn about this remarkable man and the story he wanted to share with the world.  

I was surprised to see the exhibit would only be up for around a month and a half. I believe it deserves to be displayed for much longer, and it belongs in Bloomington. It is moving and raises awareness  on the AIDS epidemic — something we aren’t taught about in school. In fact, it’s a topic avoided in most academic settings and even parts of social media. This exhibit creates an environment to learn more and get a glimpse into the life of millions who were affected by this illness.  

I loved this exhibit and won’t even hide the fact that it brought me to tears. It contains an astonishing story about an astounding man. Everyone should take 10 minutes out of their day to learn his story and open their minds.

Gentry Keener (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science. 

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