Women’s HIV/AIDS Initiative (WHAI) at PARN – Studio 5 2023

Community Exhibit

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Women's HIV/AIDS Initiative (WHAI) at PARN
The Love Positive Women Photography Project

Studio 5
Commerce Building
129 1/2 Hunter Street West
Phone 705-957-0808
Website parn.ca
Instagram instagram.com/whai.parn
Facebook facebook.com/whai.parn

Tues, Wed, Thurs: 10:30 am - 2:00 pm
Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun: Closed

*Open Friday, April 7: 5 :30 pm - 9:30 pm* for First Friday Art Crawl


The Love Positive Women Photography Project
By Women’s HIV/AIDS Initiative at Peterborough AIDS Resource Network

Brooke Dewhurst, WHAI (Women’s HIV/AIDS Initiative) Coordinator at PARN

The Love Positive Women Photography Project pulls from the annual international campaign to engage the community in showing love for and empowering women living with HIV. The purpose of this project is to create a visual component to WHAI’s community education work while centering women living with HIV throughout the process.

The WHAI program aims to educate and engage with the community about HIV-related issues, and this project is one of the many ways we hope to do that. With a special interest in community-based art, the WHAI Coordinator, Brooke Dewhurst, plans on experimenting with different methods of collaborative art creation to reach a wide range of audiences. The long-term goal of this project is to create an exhibit that can be displayed in different locations over time, with an emphasis on health-care spaces, education centres and other relevant community spaces.

Oftentimes, projects involving the folks living with HIV focus on the illness rather than the person, and this project aims to instead capture the fullness of their lives. This is a person-centred photography project, with women living with HIV and their complex lives as the main focus. Throughout the process of this project, we aim to create safe, collaborative and empowering spaces where women can write their own narratives. While HIV is a life-changing illness, this project works to embrace the ways women living with HIV can and do experience love, joy, bodily autonomy and community.

A guiding factor that fuels this project is the understanding that there is a strong presence of stigma in our community, and that there is a need for more well-informed, person-first information surrounding HIV. This project works to spread awareness about HIV by illustrating the importance of harm reduction work, combating harmful stereotypes, and letting women living with HIV lead the way. Drawing upon ACT UP organizing and other social movements, this project believes that “silence=death,” and “nothing about us without us.” There have been a lot of community developments surrounding HIV-related work over the past few years, but we still have a ways to go. WHAI and the folks involved in this project hope to be part of shifting the narrative and paving the way forward for women’s HIV-related work in our community.

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