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Experiences of the Workshop

The themes in this section illustrate both the artist’s journey through the workshop and its impacts on them. This started with the development of trust and community that was central in the success of the workshop. Next, the workshop practices offered artists the opportunity to relax and develop heightened somatic and self-awareness. Working from this relaxed meditative state with different art mediums and personally meaningful symbols, the artists reworked images from the past, including images from around the time of their diagnosis. This resulted in the release of suppressed emotion and heightened agency. Significant realisations and change followed, including for many, their affirmation of being ‘more than HIV’. Finally, artists’ development of personal symbol languages, described in their finished art works, helped embed the changes they experienced.

Developing Trust

and Community

Betty

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The sharing and depth of sharing at the beginning and end of each workshop session and in the private Facebook group supported the trust, sense of community and peer support that were central features of the project’s success.

Relaxation and

Reflection

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Elizabeth

Taking time out and doing meditation and process art provided the necessary space to relax and reflect. Both are important in the Meditative Process Art method as they help artists to become inwardly focused, a necessary step to support the realisations that follow.

Heightened

Somatic Awareness

Diane

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The meditative and process art used in the workshop sessions resulted in the heighted somatic awareness that supported artists to become internally focused. This is an important feature of the Meditative Process Art method because both practices offer access to the memories, feelings and somatic responses that are ‘brought to the surface’ and manipulated to gain insight and autonomy.

Changing the

Story, Gaining

Agency

KC

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Reworking and symbolizing imagery by flipping or changing its meaning was empowering and provided agency to many of the artists.

Symbol Making

and Embedding

a Sense of

Strength and Pleasure

Betty

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Identifying, symbolising and working with imagery of things that represent, or provide a sense of strength and pleasure, resulted in the integration of the felt sense of strength and pleasure.

Reworking the

Past

Shontaiya

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While it was challenging for some of the artists to rework imagery from around the time of their diagnosis, many also spoke of the benefits of this practice.

Developing a

Personal Symbol

Language

Lisa

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Turning personally meaningful images into symbols and working with them across a number of arts works offered a way to express emotion, embed feelings of strength and pleasure and tell new stories.

Realisation

and Change

Katherine

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Experiencing the Meditative Process Art method’s cycles of reflection, creation, realization and application led to new awareness and change.

HIV Does Not

Define Me

Agatha

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Creating and working with images of strength and pleasure highlighted the multiple aspects of the artists’ lives, and how they are much more than their diagnosis.

Art Works

Describe and

Cement Change

Realisations, feelings of strength, pleasure and agency and the release of suppressed emotion that occurred in the process of art making were described and embedded in the final art works. These works then remained as reminders of what had occurred in the process art.

Abbie

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