LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN Valentine Exhibition

Reporting by Caitlin Crews

“HIV/AIDS is not the end, having no hope is. Our hope is through love and everything you see here” –Joyce McDonald

  Workshop participants embrace each other while making cards / Photo by  Kaz Senju

Workshop participants embrace each other while making cards / Photo by Kaz Senju

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN in its third year gathered on January 18th at Dieu Donné’s studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to create three paper-making valentine workshops over the course of one day. In collaboration Visual AIDSthe Fire Island Artist Residency, Dieu Donné and the International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW) gathered artists and women living with HIV to create 300 handmade Valentine’s Day cards with personalized messages that would be delivered anonymously. These gestures of love and support are in response to help lessen the stigma surrounding women living with HIV both locally and internationally. This project has seen growth over the years with participants, with both artists and women living with HIV being deeply involved in the card making process. With active members that continue to serve as a support system for this marginalized and underrepresented group of women.

  Hands at work during the card workshop  / Photo by  Kaz Senju

Hands at work during the card workshop/ Photo by Kaz Senju

  Smiles during the creation of handmade paper / Photo by  Kaz Senju

Smiles during the creation of handmade paper / Photo by Kaz Senju

  LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN 2017 Pop-up Exhibition: Valerie Reyes-Jimenez, Joyce McDonald, Cindy Krampah, Shirlene Cooper and Lydia Bryant at the Opening Reception.   / Photo by  Kaz Senju

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN 2017 Pop-up Exhibition: Valerie Reyes-Jimenez, Joyce McDonald, Cindy Krampah, Shirlene Cooper and Lydia Bryant at the Opening Reception. / Photo by Kaz Senju

Visual Aids hosted a pop up opening at the Office of bureau of General Services Queer Division. This exhibition was a night of showcasing the handmade cards as well as to share reflections of how this project impacts the lives of the participants and receivers of the Valentine's day cards. During the event six powerful women told their stories of not only living with HIV, but living their lives as positive women.  Joyce McDonald, Shirlene Cooper, Wanda Hernandez-Parks, Lydia Bryant, Valerie Reyes-Jimenez and Cindy Krampah shared stories of their lives, families, love, and health issues that circulate their daily lives. As witnesses to this exhibition, with samples of the valentine's hung around, wrapping the room in a pink and red hue, people listened to these reflections. Viewers became emotional, not tears full of sorrow for these women living with HIV--but the act of people being moved  by women who are powerful, loving, strong and determined to continue to love others and most importantly love themselves.

During this time of  political uncertainty, that has become fearful for many women, people of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, it is a time that people come together to support every woman.

Take a look and listen to the reflections below to show how positive Women continue to LOVE!

(All videos by Kaz Senju)