Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Regina Holliday: Health-Activist, Inspiring Artist

Regina Holliday
Regina Holliday is a DC-based patient rights arts advocate.  I had the pleasure of meeting her last year at the One Common Unity Common Folk series at Busboys & Poets on the day that Obama's health care bill was passed. Regina was there to share her mural and a poem she had written about the health care system. She advocates for the need for clarity and transparency in medical records. She created her first mural in that effort on May of 2009. I was able to talk with her briefly on that day at Busboys and Poets before she and I were to share our work with the gathered audience. In our conversation, she talked about how after the death of her husband, Fred Holliday II, on June 17th 2009, she began a large Mural Titled “73 cents.” This piece can be viewed at 5001 Connecticut Ave. Washington, DC 20008. This piece depicts her family’s nightmare journey through the medical system during Fred’s cancer care. She talked about how she had the epiphany to paint a mural for all to see on this wall by a gas station that many passed in the course of a day. She talked about many people were positively supportive about the awareness she was trying to build, while some people were very offended. While the painting became part of the national healthcare debate and was covered by the BBC, CNN, CBS, AOL, VOA, NPR, The Washington Post and the BMJ, there were people who wanted the mural to be painted over. On that day, I knew I was talking to someone who was amazing and a literal world changer.

This  painting by Regina Holliday combines elements of several promotional Empire Strikes Back posters from 1980 and 1997. Read the blog post in Regina's words here
Regina Holliday's audaciousness is unrelenting. Maybe it's because she has such a compelling story to share that makes her fearless. Maybe it's her incredible talent as a visual artist that makes her confident. No one can really say. But, Regina's dedication to her mission to change policy regarding health care is palpable and inherent in everthing she does.

On her bio on her blog, simply called "Regina Holliday's Medical Advocacy Blog", I laugh when I read "She speaks at medical conferences providing the patient voice in discussions about HIT". I laugh because I saw Regina this past Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend at an event, Social Justice Camp, she organizes where she shared how she has been executing with finesse "disruptions" where she appears at medical and tech conferences, creating visual art about the memes of the conference. She is not simply speaking or presenting. She is creating art that she later presents, engaging participants to discuss and hear her interpretation of the days events regarding making real change. She is incredible.

Regina Holliday shows us through her activism how art is not only transformative but a tool to document and provide historical reference for change to take place. You can visit her timeline of advocacy at:

Liberated Muse recognizes Regina Holliday for being a trailblazer and shining example of how art transforms places not only into art spaces, but into healing places. Shine on, Regina, and continue to teach us on how to stay unboxed!

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