Beauty and hope cannot be beaten. Whether it is the plagues of Medieval Europe or the AIDS Pandemic of today, death cannot overcome the vessel of hope and beauty; art. In fact, art making is one of humanity's core responses to the realization of death. The Keiskamma Altarpiece is a wonderful example. A work created by over 120 South Africans, mostly women, who live in the AIDS decimated community of Hamburg, South Africa, this work of art standing 13 feet high and 22 feet wide. The multi-layered altarpiece takes its form from Grunewlad's Isenheim Altarpiece. Itself an earlier example of triumph of the human spirit over adversity as it was commissioned in the 1500's by the order of Saint Anthony in Alsace for hospice patients dying from ergot poisoning.
The Keiskamma Altarpiece was instigated by Dr. Carol Hofmeyr, a South African doctor and artist. The Keiskamma Altarpiece is a must see while it is still touring the US. It is currently in Chicago. See their website for more images and tour information. source: April 2008, Art in America