A Publication of WTVP

40 Leaders Under Forty

Alexander Martin is a peer outreach and marketing professional at Central Illinois FRIENDS, a nonprofit organization that links people living with and affected by HIV to essential resources to support long-term wellness and serves as a community resource for sexual health awareness, counseling, testing, vaccination and referral. They provide outreach education in schools, coordinate free testing and educational events for at-risk communities, and create new marketing content while working toward the goal of zero new HIV diagnoses in the community.

As a visual artist, Martin courageously challenges stereotypes and invites viewers to rethink the concept of gender identity. Among their recent work, they co-created a collaborative public installation which honors and raises awareness of missing and murdered women in Peoria. Martin received an MFA in studio art from Bradley University, excelling in the mediums of graphic design, printmaking and installation. Now an adjunct professor at Bradley, they teach a range of art history and studio art classes.

Martin is a board member of ArtsPartners of Central Illinois and co-founder of Project 1612, an artist-run alternative gallery space and short-term residency program that has evolved to include public performances, artist talks, film screenings and internships. They are also a founding member of the newly-created Peoria Guild of Black Artists.

A prominent local voice advocating for equity in the Black and LGBTQ+ communities, Martin has graciously shared their own challenges and experience being Black and non-binary, showing vulnerability and helping others who are forging their own paths as gender-nonconforming individuals. Martin is also active in the local drag community and represented Illinois in the 2019 Miss Gay USofA pageant in Dallas, Texas. In addition, they volunteer as a reader for Drag Queen Story Hour, a monthly celebration of LGBTQIA+ authors, illustrators and readers at Lit. on Fire Books.PM