Teacher Candidates Reflect On Their Art for AIDS Workshop

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

Windsor 6

On February 1st, Art for AIDS International hosted a workshop with teacher candidates as part of the Professional Learning Series at the University of Windsor, held during the Faculty of Education's 6th Annual Social Justice in Education Conference. The annual conference seeks to encourage students to reflect on the importance of social justice and equity in education. At the end of the workshop, participants had an opportunity to provide feedback on their experience. While we had a fantastic time hosting the workshop, the responses we received were truly heartwarming for our team to read.

This is what they had to say:

"Immensely Enjoyable workshop.  I very much enjoyed the hands-on aspect of this workshop and Mr. Bervoets is visibly passionate about what he does.  The explanation of the motive behind the workshops/organization was also presented well.  It was a very encouraging environment and it doesn't matter if you're an 'artist' or not--I was very impressed by the caliber of work produced! I would definitely bring this workshop to future classes I may teach.  Not only does it raise awareness of AIDS/Social Justice issues, it's also hella fun! A++, Would workshop again!"

- Brian Laine

"This Workshop was very useful and fun.  Its nice to do an activity rather than just listen.  The concept of using our art for a cause is great.  I'm glad I came to this."

- Jenn Ducroix

"This workshop surprised me--I'm not sure if I read the description or not, but it is not what I expected. The Surprise was pleasant.  I particularly enjoyed the message about turning your passion or talent into a tool for betterment and hope.  The activity was great; A wonderful de-stressor after a hectic week! Thank you for coming and sharing your passion with us."

- Tia Papa

"I very much enjoyed this workshop because it was not just a lecture but a hands on experience.  I will be taking and using this within my own classroom.  Thank you."

- Anonymous

"Thank you very much, Hendrikus, for your dedication and the transmission of your passion.  We learned a lot and we learned how to put our heart and compassion into the learning process.  Keep up the good work.  Good luck!"

- Alia Khalaf

windsor 8

Thank you to all of the participants, the Faculty of Education at University of Windsor for hosting the workshop, and Lisa Staley for all the great photos.

How to Make a Great Art for AIDS Collage in 5 Steps

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!

A Letter of Thanks from Moosonee Public School

This past spring, Art for AIDS' Executive Director, Hendrikus Bervoets, traveled to Moosonee and Moose Factory Ontario for the third time in two years to host workshops with young people covering a range of topics including HIV, discrimination, and social justice. Recently, we were honoured to receive a letter of thanks from one of the teachers involved, which, with her permission, we wanted to share. While we consistently work to ensure that our workshops are engaging, fun, and educational for everyone involved, letters like this affirm that we are on the right track and are a source of motivation for our whole team:

Although some of us may never travel the world, or even leave the little bubble that is Moosonee, I thought it was very educational for the students to meet Hendrkus; a world traveler with a humanitarian spirit.

Hendrkus relayed so many powerful and thought-provoking messages during his workshop; I know that many participants were touched by various things he said. For me, his comments of acceptance were very moving and encouraged me to be less judgmental and more open to the knowledge and experiences of those around me.

I have been racking my brain for months, trying to design a workshop that would prove to be a self-esteem builder while also teaching our students resiliency. As it turns out, all I had to do was have my students attend one of Hendrkus’ workshops! The empowerment, confidence and overall joy in the room throughout the two days was as infectious as it was incredible.

Words cannot express how grateful I feel for having had the opportunity to participate in the “Art for Aids” workshop. Being able to share it with the Grade 8 students of Moosonee Public School makes it that much better. I know that the messages of acceptance, social responsibility and self-worth that were communicated throughout the workshop will go a long way in aiding our students achieve lasting success in all of their endeavors.

A big thank you to our Supervisory Officer, Mr. Tom Steele, who had a vision of this workshop happening months ago and went to great lengths to ensure that it became a reality. And to Hendrkus, who spread a wonderful message of self-empowerment to all our Intermediate students while simultaneously taking them one step closer to becoming caring, informed citizens of the world. I look forward to when our paths cross again.

Emily Samuel
Grade 8 Teacher
Moosonee Public School

We would like to thank all of the students, teachers, and administrators from both the Moosonee Public School in Moosonee, Ontario, and the Ministik Public School in Moose Factory, Ontario, for their support, and the enthusiasm they've shown for our work. We are all touched and looking forward to our next opportunity to work in both communities.

Read about our previous trips to Moosonee and Moose Factory.

Students use visual art to stop the spread of HIV in South Africa [Gallery]

Over the past few months we've been incredibly busy hosting workshops with a growing group of students in Canada, and throughout southern Africa. Most recently, this has included two solid weeks of work with some incredible young people in Soweto and Johannesburg. [See photos below!]

Hendrikus Bervoets, Art for AIDS International's Executive Director, hosted workshops with 192 students in six high schools and at the University of Johannesburg in partnership with the University's Department of Community Engagement. These workshops introduced students to a range of themes including HIV prevention and testing, gender and racial equality, self-esteem, and social justice through the medium of art making.

“The student's excitement was really quite unbelievable. I walked into the classrooms as a complete and total stranger and talked to rooms full of South African students. While I was a stranger when I walked in, however, I felt that I walked out as a friend. In such a short period of time there was this phenomenal connection and discussion being made with young people” - Hendrikus Bervoets

All of the workshops were facilitated by Hendrikus with support from 8 University of Johannesburg students who are part of a collaborative Art for AIDS mentorship programme there. The secondary school workshops were also used to collect important data as part of a longitudinal study on information quality, comprehension and of course, student enjoyment during Art for AIDS workshops. This data helps us continue to ensure our workshops are effective, enjoyable, and tailored to be regionally relevant to the participants.

During the workshops, we were also privileged to notify a student from Noordgesig Secondary School, Busisiwe, that she had won a scholarship sponsored by the Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF), culminating an Art for AIDS/OTF school Twinning Project organised last year between Noordgesig and Northern Lights Secondary School in Moosonee, Ontario.

All of us at Art for AIDS would like to thank the Department of Community Engagement from the University of Johannesburg for their support and partnership, as well as the University’s mentorship students who volunteered their time to support the workshop process, and to act as role models for the secondary school participants. We would also like to thank the Ontario Teachers' Federation for their support, sponsorship, and for their dedication to empowering young people through education. Finally, we would like to thank each of the students for their questions, comments, and for the incredible pieces of artwork they produced and shared - which we will soon be sharing with all of you.

Holding workshops is an extremely important part of what Art for AIDS does. Although not everyone is infected with HIV, everyone is affected by it. It is crucial, therefore, that everyone, and especially young people, are educated about the realities of the the global AIDS epidemic, and engaged in the response. If you would like to learn more about our workshops, visit our Workshops page or contact us directly!

“All in all, it was fantastic. I came back to Canada with renewed energy and excitement for the work that I do".

Check out our gallery for photos from our workshops, and to catch a glimpse at some of the great artwork that the participants produced.

Driving the AIDS Response through Art

The following post originally appeared on the North Star Alliance blog on August 10, 2011.

On 26-29 July, North Star Alliance teamed up with Art for AIDS International to pilot a series of innovative visual-arts-based HIV workshops with truck drivers and sex workers in the community of Beitbridge, Zimbabwe.

These workshops, led by Art for AIDS International Executive Director Hendrikus Bervoets, use a combination of fact-based knowledge sharing, experiential learning, peer-peer support, and art making to explore specific and sensitive aspects of risk and vulnerability, especially as they relate to HIV and STI infection.

“Although HIV awareness is high, fear and stigma prevent many from getting tested and seeking treatment. These innovative workshops show that the process of combining health information, storytelling and art-making can be informative, therapeutic and fun for everyone involved” says Robin Landis, Director of Communications for North Star Alliance.

What is perhaps most exciting about these workshops, however, is the resulting body of artwork.

During the workshops participants translate their insights into the production of original collage artwork. Each collage is produced as original machine-made limited edition prints that are signed and numbered.

These prints will create a unique portfolio which will be collaboratively exhibited by North Star Alliance and Art for AIDS International to raise awareness about the impact of HIV on mobile populations, and proceeds to support both organisations’ work in Southern Africa.  The portfolio will be officially released early this fall, so you'll have to wait until then to see it!

The workshops also provided North Star with an opportunity to collect mixed-method research on these key populations. “By interacting with truck drivers and sex workers outside of the clinic setting we were able to deepen our understanding of their health needs and tackle sensitive issues like HIV stigma" says Robin Landis.

North Star will use the participants’ feedback and in-depth interviews to improve our targeted services and programmes.

A Circle Assembly Exhibit - Art for AIDS International returns from Moosonee [SLIDESHOW]

The following post was written by Alex Kruger, Art for AIDS International student intern.

Students at an Art for AIDS Assembly at the Northern Lights Secondary School

Hendrikus Bervoets, Executive Director of Art for AIDS International, recently returned from a trip to Moosonee, Ontario, sponsored by the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, where he hosted an art and HIV awareness workshop and assembly with the staff and students at Northern Lights Secondary School.

“I've traveled to many different parts of the world with Art for AIDS,” Hendrikus notes, “but none of them were like this experience.”

Beginning with a 4:00 AM wake up time in London Ontario and a solid 8 hours of travel, Hendrikus arrived in chilly but beautiful Moosonee Ontario, a small community located at the base of the James Bay, where he made his way to the Northern Lights Secondary School to plan for the following day's assembly and workshop.

“From the beginning of when I walked into the school, they had this large lobby, and I just had a feeling that was where [the exhibit] had to be,” Hendrikus recounts of his initial thoughts of the school. “It had light coming down from the ceiling and I kept thinking that the exhibit needed to be in a circle.” While this was the first time Hendrikus had ever conducted an exhibit in circle form, the symbol,with neither a beginning nor an end, was perfect for capturing its participants’ energy.Read more

Western Reflects [VIDEO]

The following article (and video) was written (and produced) by Kate Hoad-Reddick, Off Campus Don at the University of Western Ontario and Art for AIDS International student intern!

Empowering. Inspiring. Fun. Eye-Opening.

These are just some of the words first year students used to describe their experiences following their Art for AIDS International workshop. On February 5, 2011, Art for AIDS International hosted first-year students from The University of Western Ontario at their head-office and Gallery. Students participated in a day-long art and awareness-raising workshop that allowed them to explore their experience with social justice issues and reflect on how HIV and AIDS are affecting people in their own community and abroad.Read more

Art for AIDS International at the Four Seasons Vancouver on October 5th and 6th!

On October 5th and 6th, help Art for AIDS International continue to create change for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa by attending an incredible exhibition and workshop series at the Four Season's Hotel in Vancouver.

The workshop, which will take place on October 5th from 1:00 to 4:30pm at the Four Seasons, will give you first hand experience learning about, and participating in, creating art to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.  Educators looking to expand their own knowledge of the subject, or who are interested in bringing Art for AIDS to their school should definitely attend!

This workshop will be followed by the opening of a wonderful new Art for AIDS International exhibit on October 6th, featuring new artwork made by students from Canada, as well as various countries in sub-Saharan Africa.  This work is all available for sale with proceeds benefiting organizations working with women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

The goal of these events is to let you experience the thrill of a workshop and learn from Hendrikus about his work and how you can become involved, as an owner of their art, a corporate sponsor, a host for a workshop or a supporter in some other way.Read more

Reflecting on the Art for AIDS Workshop Process

Almost a decade ago, when Art for AIDS International's primary concern was encouraging professional artists to respond to the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, an opportunity came forward to host a workshop with students from the London District Catholic School Board.  While this was not our primary focus, we leaped at the opportunity to engage young people through art and teach them a bit more about issues related to HIV/AIDS and social justice generally.  Little did we know, however, that not only would the students respond with incredible passion and enthusiasm during these first few workshops, but, that they would also produce incredible and engaging works of art during them as well.  It was for this reason that we immediately shifted the focus of our project away from our International Portfolio toward helping young people get creative in understanding and addressing HIV/AIDS in their own community and abroad.  Since these first workshops, we have been privileged to host nearly 200 workshops with over 10,000 students from across Canada, South Africa, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Uganda, and the United States.

With upcoming workshops scheduled in Durban, Vancouver, Toronto, and London, as well as upcoming exhibitions and fundraisers in Spain, South Africa, and multiple Canadian shows, we felt it necessary not only to share our impression of the workshops with you, but also the impressions of those that ultimately matter most: the participating students.

Below you will find four statements written by past participants, all of whom have moved on and become active members of their community. Please enjoy and, whether or not you have been to a show, or attended a workshop, we  encourage your comments below!Read more