Museum Exhibit Examines Social and Public Health Issues of TB and HIV/AIDS

In conjunction with the launch of the Nuestra Casa Initiative, The University of Texas at El Paso Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens will open a new exhibition on Jan. 17, with an opening reception at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19. The exhibit will run through Dec. 6, 2012.

The exhibition, also titled Nuestra Casa, features a shantytown style house created by South African- based artist Damien Schumann. Centennial Museum Director Bill Wood, Ph.D., described the exhibition as an “immersive experience designed to connect visitors to the human story behind the social and public health issue of tuberculosis through Schumann’s photographic work.”

The Nuestra Casa Initiative is the most recent incarnation of the original Nuestra Casa project created in 2009 by Shumann and funded by USAID and Project Concern International (PCI). It includes a year-long series of health and social programming developed by faculty and students in the UTEP departments of social work, anthropology and sociology, and communication, and the Center for Civic Engagement under the leadership of Eva Moya, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work.

Moya’s research is focused on social and public health issues including tuberculosis and stigma. According to Moya, over the course of 2012, she and Arvind Singhal, Ph.D., professor of communication; Lucia Dura, Ph.D., assistant professor of English; Guillermina Nuñez-Michiri, Ph.D., assistant professor of sociology and anthropology; Silvia Chavez, Ph.D.; and Raquel Orduño, M.S.W., in partnership with PCI, the Mexican Consulate, the City of El Paso Health Department, the Alliance of Border Collaborative (ABC) and TB Photovoice, will launch education, research, policy and service activities in support of the Nuestra Casa Initiative.

The initiative and exhibition have been several years in the making and grew from a unique partnership between PCI, USAID, ABC, Moya and Schumann. Three years ago, Moya met Schumann at an international AIDS conference in Mexico where the two developed the idea of working together to bring greater public awareness to the social and public health issue of tuberculosis. In 2009, PCI secured funding from USAID to hire Schumann for the project. That same year, Nuestra Casa began its tour in El Paso. The tour continued in Mexico in partnership with Mexico’s National TB Program and the support of the State TB Programs in Quintana Roo, Oaxaca, Tamaulipas, Tijuana, and ending in at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The Centennial Museum is located at the corner of University Avenue and Wiggins Road on the UTEP campus. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Parking in the Centennial’s parking lot and admission are free.

Information: Centennial Museum, 915-747-5565 or www.museum.utep.edu.