Art For A Better World, 2, medium webMilwaukee artist Niki Johnson’s portrait Eggs Benedict is woven from 17,000 non-lubricated condoms. It measures 83 x 60 x 14 inches and is currently on view at Portrait Society Gallery in Milwaukee.

Johnson made it in response to a statement Pope Benedict made in 2009 while visiting Africa, in which he stated:

“I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is. If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help, the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it.”

After hearing this statement on a morning news program Johnson felt that she had to do something.  Over the next three years she took on the various tasks needed to complete a project of this scale, which included the design of the artwork and case, developing a varied color palate by learning how to inter-stuff and fold the materials, and of course, securing nearly 20,000 condoms with her own money.  She completed the stitching of the portrait just as Pope Benedict entered into retirement; her work and his statement woven together in their legacy.

Niki Johnson’s process also involves writing.  Following the completion of the stitch-work she wrote a statement on her blog.   Within a few days a local online news agency picked up on her story, including both the artwork and her blog post.  Within two weeks word of Eggs Benedict went viral following an unprecedented course through online media channels.  It has since been covered by news media throughout the world — online, in print and on television.

On Sunday, April 14, 2013, during a live interview on CNN Sunday Morning’s segment Faces of Faith Niki Johnson announced her intention to sell Eggs Benedict by openly accepting offers worldwide with a goal to raise as much money as possible so that she could donate a percentage of the proceeds to benefit AIDS research and advocacy.

Please stay tuned as we embark on this exciting global project of bringing positive change to the world through the voice of contemporary art and philanthropy.   Click on the “Place an Offer” tab to learn more about how you can participate. Deadline is May 21, 2013.

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