Your donation will support LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN, an international series of grassroots events that uses Valentine's Day as a backdrop, creating a platform for individuals and communities to engage in public and private acts of love and caring for self-identifying women living with HIV. Working from a place of strength, LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN focuses on the idea of interconnectedness, relationship building, loving oneself and loving ones community.
Since 1988, Visual AIDS has utilized art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over. LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN is an ongoing project originally established by Visual AIDS Artist+ Member Jessica Whitbread in 2013. LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN valentine making workshops became an annual Visual AIDS project in 2014.
In our first year, we made and mailed approximately 100 valentines. Since then, demand for the program has increased enthusiastically. In 2019, valentines were sent to 800 women in 40 countries, 242 women of them living in the U.S. in 35 states. Our intention is to grow that number next year.
Funding will also support the Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops that serve as extensions of the LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN papermaking workshops. These monthly workshops use art as a tool towards community building and empowerment for women living with HIV. Led by Visual AIDS Artist Member and long-term HIV survivor, Shirlene Cooper, the workshops foster healing and dialogue around mental health and community building and take place across New York City at partner organization and agency spaces.
The first hour of each workshop includes shared discussions of success and stresses, shared affirmations, and a presentation by an expert in fields such as nutrition, housing, and activism. The second hour features an art making project. Recent projects have included painting on canvas, mask making, stained glass window design, cyanotype photographs, and hand painted t-shirts and tote bags. Participants at all levels are welcome - from those who are making art for the first time, to those who may already enjoy making or studying art.
As a result of our partnerships, we now have more requests from HIV+ women around the world than we have valentines to send and a high demand for the Women's Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops, resulting in a direct need to grow the program. Therefore, the ongoing support of individual donors becomes even more essential in growing our programs. We count on the support of donors like you to help us to grow LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN, expanding our reach, building community, empowering workshop participants, and lessening the stigma experienced by women living with HIV.