The following post was written by Art for AIDS Marketing and Communications Intern Robyn Bell.

5 steps - intro

Throughout the year, we have the opportunity to exhibit some incredible artwork made by young people from around the world to help raise awareness about HIV and AIDS. There is one question that comes up frequently at our exhibits, however, that we thought we should address: How are they made? Since there are more people out there with the same question, we thought we would just show you.

Recently, we had the privilege of being welcomed into the Montessori Academy of London to host a series of workshops with grade seven and eight students. Art for AIDS International’s Executive Director, Hendrikus Bervoets, led students through the creative collage-making process, encouraging independent and imaginative thinking, while discussing the impact of HIV and AIDS on communities around the world. Of course, the workshop also resulted in a new collection of artwork created entirely by the participating students. To show you how they did it, here is the 5 step process that students took to create some beautiful and powerful images:

1. Play

Students at the Montessori Academy started the collage making process by getting their hands dirty and playing with paint. These finger paintings are used as the background for their collages.

5 steps - play

2. Tell a Story

After flipping through photos and magazines, students ripped out some of their favourite pages to use as either background pieces or story telling pieces. Some chose images of scenery featuring hot deserts, blue skies, or calm oceans, while others chose images of people or animals to tell their tales.

5 steps - choose images

3. Tear it Up

Using inner artistic intuition, pieces were cut, torn, and ripped for the next layer of the collage. Background pieces could be torn or ripped, while story pieces were cut out using careful precision.  Whether the students chose colour, symmetry, shape, texture or juxtaposition in their art, they were always encouraged to follow their gut instincts of what looked most personally appealing. The creative process remained entirely in their hands.

5 steps - tear

4. Glue it Down

In the final step, students layered their pieces using the textured finger paintings as a base. Background images were layered next, with the carefully cut storytelling pieces placed last, giving the final punch of colour and expression. All pieces were then glued down.

5 steps - glue

5. Show it Off

Give us a smile, they look great! Every finished piece from Montessori Academy was utterly unique. The final pieces boasted bold colours, engaging story pieces and interesting uses of juxtaposing images. Each collage will be produced as original machine-made limited edition prints to be signed and numbered. After the portfolios are complete, the artwork is exhibited and sold in schools, and throughout the local and global community at special events, in galleries and museums, at concerts, and online.  Funds will then be used to support select initiatives directly that provide care and support for women and children affected by HIV and AIDS in some of the communities hardest hit by the pandemic throughout Africa.

These students all demonstrated a knack for the creative process and saw the beauty of being involved in the global response to HIV and AIDS. We had the fortune to be there while we watched each student beam at their artwork. Together, we were reminded the power of driving change through art.

5 steps - show it off

Art for AIDS International would like to thank the Montessori Academy of London, students, teachers, and supervisors for hosting us. We’re excited to share the final prints with you, and the broader community over the coming months!

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