WEEK 3 Re-Working Imagery from the Past Looking back, shock, fear, shame and stigma Looking back Back To Start of Week 3 In Week Three, the artists reworked imagery from around the time of their diagnosis with HIV. This gave the artists a way to critique the stigma and ignorance underpinning that imagery, release suppressed emotion, and tell a new story. Katherine described the shock and shame she experienced after her diagnosis, feelings that a number of women spoke about. She said: “I chose this because I like the way the face is like removed but sort of still there. It was a bit like how I felt when diagnosed - broken. Like I had lost my identity.” Katherine, Not Broken Stigma in the media Stigma in the media Back To Start of Week 3 Diane spoke about being constantly "bombed" by negative media when she was diagnosed in the early 1980s: “It was just like being bombed all the time with media articles, and normally in the negative sense. So, yeah, I chose to work on an image of the grim reaper. It brought fear to everybody, the stigma... It just sort of brought everything back into the closet, with fear and all that again.” She re-worked this image to ask viewers, what did you learn? Diane, What Did You Learn? A lack of information and issues with health professionals A lack of information Back To Start of Week 3 Shontaiya spoke of past and ongoing struggles with health professionals including a lack of information or being given incorrect information. Speaking of having to do lots of blood tests, she said: “The doctor’s surgery didn’t have any information about HIV. Then there was the testing which seemed to be never-ending. And I’ve had so many thousands of blood tests now, and it’s like my veins are gonna go, you can’t keep taking it from the same arm. So I’ve been teaching the doctors to bloody get it somewhere else, but they still always want that arm.” In this painting, Shontaiya placed words that were meaningful to her above an image of a coffin, reflecting how the history of HIV began. Fortunately, today women living with HIV who are on treatment are living long, healthy lives with no risk of passing on HIV to others. Shontaiya, HIV No Longer A Death Sentence Issues with health professionals Issues with health professionals Back To Start of Week 3 Reworking the image of a doctor in a white coat Ange visually described the insensitive way she was treated by some health professionals. This led her to reach out to women living with HIV to get the help and information she needed: “I thought well, how can I change it up so that it’s meaningful for me, and not in a negative way? And it was about taking the doctor and turning him into a woman, because that’s where I got my support from in the early stages.” Ange, Men in White Coats Reflecting and Releasing Reflecting and Releasing Back To Start of Week 3 Many of the women who participated in the workshop described putting aside or burying their feelings about their diagnosis with HIV as a protection mechanism. But with trust and supports in place, reworking imagery from the past was positive, as it helped the artists reflect on their experiences of living with HIV and release suppressed negative emotions. As Katherine said: “I think doing the art work today on that image has been really helpful. Because I tend to think that if you have emotional baggage that's left just suppressed, it always will come out somewhere sometime. And if it can come out through the art work in a positive way, well that's good.” Katherine, Hope Releasing emotion, critiquing imagery and gaining agency Critiquing imagery and
gaining agency
In Week Three, the artists learnt about a modern art practice where imagery is reworked to critique sociocultural issues such as the racism and sexism that can underpin imagery. Describing her reworking of the Grim Reaper image, using positive symbols and humor, Ange removed the power of the Grim Reaper: “So I just drew a rough outline of the Grim Reaper, and I turned his scythe into a rainbow. I also have a unicorn standing on top of him and the unicorn’s farting rainbows, because that’s what they do. The words that were around at the time were all really negative. So, I changed them to hope and love and safety and compassion and rebirth. And the sun shining up the top is to shine light on all of us.” Back To Start of Week 3 Ange, The Light Emerges
Addressing stigma Addressing stigma The reworking of imagery from the past gave the artists an opportunity to voice their response to negative and stigmatizing experiences. Doing this creatively offered an experiential way to regain personal power and develop agency as we used personally meaningful words, colors and symbols. Abbie chose to work on an image of the musician Freddie Mercury: “So, mine says ‘break free from HIV stigma’. And that's really the feeling that I get when I take a look at Freddie Mercury. And I guess he's in that position that he gets in when he's going to shout something out to the whole audience, you know. So I repeated that. So, the 'break free', I look at that, and it makes me want to break free.” Back To Start of Week 3 Abbie, Break Free Flipping images, ideas, feelings Flipping images, ideas, feelings KC created a two-fold message using a visual metaphor by reworking the HIV red ribbon. In the image she reworked, she turned the ribbon upside down to create the letter “V”: “I've done my V’s upside down and everything. So I put the ribbon with the “V” (in HIV). I turned it upside down and made Victory. And I did “HIV positive” but I underlined “HI” - it's like you can still talk to me. I’m friendly.” Back To Start of Week 3 KC, V for Victory Lisa, I Knew You Were Hiding Something Lisa used humor to flip the negativity of the Grim Reaper image and remove its power: “The grim reaper has wings on, and his sickle has got the T in truth. I drew him in a fairy dress, and the words are, ‘I knew you were hiding something, you big girl.’” Ongoing development of a personal symbol language Building hope In all the art works this week, the artists were developing their own unique symbol language. Thinking and feeling in images and using color and mark making to symbolically describe ideas and feelings is a central feature of the Meditative Process Art method. Through this process, the artists developed and integrated the new meaning they were making in their lives. Diane explained this when she talked about her reworking of the ‘I have AIDS – Please Hug Me’ poster from the 1980s, representing a child with AIDS ostracized for fear of transmitting the disease: “So, this is me. The left side of the poster is when I was diagnosed. I had long blonde hair at the time, but I felt dirty and nothing was bright in my life and the word AIDS was being misused. Then, once I came to terms with everything, then I changed, which is seen on the right side of the poster. I got rid of the word AIDS, because it’s really important for people to understand the difference between the words AIDS and HIV. And now I’m ready for the hugs, and things are a lot brighter. Like before I was just making myself sick, but now I’m telling people, ‘I can’t make you sick.’ So mine’s a before and after.” Back To Start of Week 3 Back to Main Timeline Week 4 Diane, Please Hug Me