The colorful artwork appeared in IAS conference logos, on the website, in emails, videos, and on site in signage and presentation slides.
At the start of the 12th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Science last July at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, conference organizers acknowledged the Yuggera and the Turrbal people as the traditional custodians of Meanjin, or Brisbane, Australia. But organizers began honoring the Indigenous population well before the conference started, by making their traditional art central to the event’s branding.
The biennial conference — which brings together scientists, clinicians, politicians, and activists to share and learn about advances in HIV research that move science into policy and practice — aims to have an impact on the country where each is hosted, Sharon Lewin, president of the IAS executive board, said in a video case study.
To that end, IAS wanted to create a visual identity for the event that would evoke the contributions and experiences of the First Nations community, according to an IAS spokesperson. So organizers reached out to their local partners at the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM), who tapped Leah Cummins, a Mayi-kulan artist from northwestern Queensland, to create a piece of art for the logo.
By the time the more than 5,000 attendees gathered in Brisbane and online, the colorful artwork, titled “Kurrpara Mirndingunyas” or “Three Paths” — appearing on the conference website, in emails, videos, and on site in signage and presentation slides — was embedded in their minds and indelibly linked to the event. As Cummins explained on IAS’ website, her piece tells the story of “the coming together of many people from many places to converge on Meeanjin/Brisbane… to bring ideas and ways of thinking as a holistic approach to healing from modern and traditional medicine.”