Summer 2023 Newsletter

Summer 2023 News

Expanding our oral history

With the help of filmmaker Chris McKim, we are growing the oral history section of our website. Today, we kick off this effort with McKim’s interview of Tom Rauffenbart, David Wojnarowicz’s partner of seven years. 

Tom and David shared many interests including a love of the movies, water, nature, and travel. Their first trip—weeks after meeting—was to St. John, Virgin Islands, and they never stopped. Typically right after David had a show opening, they would travel. Mexico, the Caribbean, Florida, and New Orleans were favorite destinations. They explored jungles, bayous, Aztec and Mayan ruins—Tom driving, David taking photos. They spent time being silly, laughing, getting angry when they got lost, and by the end of the day had great adventures, great memories.

The AIDS epidemic, and its personal impact on their lives, changed everything as they joined protests with Act Up in New York and Washington DC while trying to figure out how and if they would survive.

When David became ill, their adventures were limited to trips to the Union Square Cafe on 16th St where they sat at the bar and ate black bean soup and laughed and lingered with friends until David grew tired. A longtime survivor of AIDS, Tom managed David’s estate for close to three decades after David’s death—thirty-one years ago today.

Now you can listen to Tom describe his relationship with David in his own words. “Most people know David as the warrior fighting against injustice and AIDS and the One Tribe Nation,” Tom explains, “but then there was also the goofy, wild, funny David – the David that I knew.”

Click here to listen to filmmaker Chris McKim’s interview with Tom Rauffenbart to learn more about his time with David.

Thank you to World of Wonder Productions for generously sharing their audio archive from the making of the Chris McKim documentary film Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**ker 

Listen to Tom Rauffenbart >

Archiving films

David shot and finished one film, in his lifetime, Heroin, 1981. Yet he collaborated with many friends and  filmmakers to create memorable works—including Richard Kern, Tommy Turner, Richard Morrison, and Tom Rubnitz.

Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to view some of these films in their entirety and others as tantalizing clips. Thank you to all who helped assemble these remarkable films which we will continue to find, archive, and post.

View the films >


Selecting our fall fellow 


We are currently in the midst of interviewing undergraduate students for our fall fellowship. These students play an integral role in collaborating with our creative team to increase awareness of David’s work via our Instagram feed and beyond.  

Throughout The Fellowship, students  learn more about David’s life, art, writing and activism—keeping a visual journal of their experience and performing a week-long “Instagram takeover” of our account to share their scholarship.

Please contact us if you know a student who would like to participate >

Welcoming your involvement

Since our inception, we’ve relied on professional storytellers like Cynthia Carr for invaluable insight. We also welcome the involvement of David’s friends, colleagues, and those inspired by his work to help us illuminate the legacy of David’s life, art, writing and activism.

Have a story or ephemera to share?

As we mark our first year, we are so grateful to everyone who has helped us realize our initial goals. Please join our growing foundation family by following us on Instagram to learn more about our work in the months ahead.

Anita Vitale
Executive Director

Images: Something from Sleep III (For Tom Rauffenbart), 1989. Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 48 1/2 x 39 x 1 5/8 in.;  David editing Super 8 mm film in Tom Rauffenbart’s apartment (date unknown);  Grace Healy (inaugural David Wojnarowicz Fellow), WojFound Art Journal, 2023. Mixed Media ; Xerox flyer for the Group Show organized by David Wojnarowicz at Lucky Strike, October 1982. Courtesy The Jean Foos & Dirk Rowntree Archive of David Wojnarowicz.