Visual Aids 2017 Foundation Grantee: Love Positive Women

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.

For LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN 2017, artists, activists and HIV+ women came together at Dieu Donné’s newly relocated paper making studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to create hundreds of unique handmade paper valentines which will be mailed to women living with HIV around the world. For their third annual LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN collaboration, Visual AIDS, the Fire Island Artist ResidencyDieu Donné and the International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW) hosted three papermaking valentine workshops on January 18 to show their love and support for women living with HIV internationally. Women living with HIV as well as invited artists made paper valentines for women living with HIV around the world. The valentines will be mailed with personalized messages as a gesture of love and support in the hopes of lessening the stigma experienced by women living with HIV.

LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN is an international series of grassroots events that uses Valentines Day as a backdrop, creating a platform for individuals and communities to engage in public and private acts of love and caring for women living with HIV. Working from a place of strength, LPW focuses on the idea of interconnectedness, relationship building, loving oneself and loving ones’ community.

The Valentine Cards were then exhibited in LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN Valentine Pop-up Exhibition beginning on January 26th at the Bureau of General Services Queer Division. The Opening Reception included reflections on the importance of love and community building from Visual AIDS Artist+ Members and additional women living with HIV including Joyce McDonaldShirlene CooperWanda Hernandez-Parks, Lydia Bryant, Valerie Reyes-Jimenez and Cindy Krampah. Read excerpts below.

Excerpt: “My daughter handed me this envelope and I was like, ‘What bill collector is this?’ and when I opened it, it was like life stopped. It’s like everything I was going through and feeling stopped. And I pulled out this big red heart. And I had no idea… I was like, ‘where did this heart come from?’ And I read the words–you know, they tell you to write words–and you never know who’s gonna get it. I believe that by divine appointment, people get exactly what they need.” -Joyce McDonald

Excerpt: “When you’re living inside yourself, and you’re hidden inside, it’s hard to come out. But when you hear other people come out, it’s a joyful feeling. It’s a struggle when you’re fighting with yourself. And a lot of people really — I used to think nobody understood. And I see when I look around how many people do understand… Now I’m not afraid anymore.” -Lydia Bryant

Artists making Valentine Cards at Dieu Donné

“For me, fighting for people living with HIV and AIDS is something I’ve done since my day one, and I’m not about to stop now. I’m not ashamed about being HIV positive. Ignorance, hate stigma, HIV criminalization and horrible misinformation are our biggest enemy. We have to be proactive instead of reactive.” –Valerie Reyes-Jimenez

“This is my first time making a valentine and everything, and it’s just a very meaningful experience…it touched me because I was very happy and it was a pleasure making these valentines knowing that they’re gonna go out to women around the world who will experience the same feeling” -Cindy Krampah