Installations were created by project participants at organizational sites to represent our collective conversations. Installations represent key themes from: PWA (an AIDS Service Organization), Casey House (a sub-acute HIV hospital) and Empower (a youth-led HIV prevention program). They were shared with other community members, policy makers, staff, decision-makers, and other participants at a public exhibit featuring a report launch, panel, and photo-exhbition.
From Left to Right: Photos on leaves (acrylic gel-medium) installed on ornamental tree with lights; Photos on fallen leaves “printed”
with direct sunlight; House Installation (replica of former hospital) - 28 “ 32 x 66 “ cardboard house; photographs as shingles, wall-paper, and stained glass; Puzzle Installation: 24"x 36" Poster-Sized Puzzle, 100 pieces
Photo Credit: Fonna Seidiu
Over 3 months, 10 volunteers, peer workers, and a volunteer coordinator came together to visualize, discuss, and analyze how they understood engagement at Toronto People With AIDS Foundation (PWA). PWA engages people living with HIV/AIDS in enhancing their health and well-being through practical and therapeutic support services and broader social change initiatives. It is an organization run primarily by, and for, people living with HIV.
Volunteers at PWA play a vital role within the life cycle of the organization. During our weeks together, we talked about people’s individual journeys as they connected with the larger history of the agency, and HIV movement. We talked about what it means to fight together against stigma and discrimination, and support other people’s journeys.
PWA celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, with an event entitled “the Family of HIV.” Our printed photos on leaves serve as a metaphor for the project: the photographs produced would not be possible without the trunk of the PWA family tree. The leaves also represent the diversity of current volunteers, their journey since connecting with the agency, and the nutrients gained from previously fallen leaves. While we chose maple leaves to symbolize many people’s journey to Canada, leaves are also reminiscent of medicine, like the marijuana leaf – a leaf that provides relief and healing to many people living with HIV, or leaves of comfort from people’s home countries.
Beneath the tree, “fallen leaves” scatter the ground. They represent the volunteers who have come before, and those who we have lost to HIV. Using direct sunlight, we printed tracings of participant’s photographs onto the fallen leaves. These impressions symbolize the importance of lightness and darkness in our conversations, and of all stages of one’s journey through physical and emotional loss, hope, and acceptance.
This tree is dedicated in memory of Andrew Kinsman, and all those we have lost.
Over 3 months, 11 participants, mentors and one coordinator came together to visualize, discuss, and analyze how they understood engagement.Empower is youth-led arts-based HIV prevention and harm reduction program that trains diverse young people to become peer educators in their own communities.
This puzzle is a collage of some of the photos taken during our time together, as well as photos from our final workshop. We chose to represent our photos as a puzzle because it symbolized the spirit of Empower: a puzzle can be fun, participatory, collaborative and creative. Youth engagement, or youth-led HIV or Harm Reduction programming is often about bringing together different pieces and perspectives that form a part of a bigger vision.
A puzzle captures the different perspectives and experiences of people who have come to Empower over the years. We have met over many seasons, and have changed with time. We often have many diverse identities and experiences in the room: our pieces sometimes fit, and don’t fit. A puzzle reminds us of the importance of this difference.
We often come together to find and solve challenges in our lives, or in the community. When working on a collective project we often don’t know what the end result will be – the end ‘image’ is a coming together of all of our different parts. It is an adventure that requires that we trust in the process, and all give a piece of ourselves. This can be challenging but beautiful work.
For this reason, we ask that you join us in assembling our puzzle. When working together, you will never know what final image awaits you. Have fun!
“It’s the family you don’t have”
“our house, our rules”
“I feel like I’m coming home”
Over several months, 9 clients and 6 staff members met to visualize, discuss, and analyze how they understood engagement. We met in two groups (clients and staff), but came together for a final workshop to share our photos. A group of clients helped to brainstorm, dream, and build this house.
This house is an artistic representation of the old Casey House hospital – a house located at 9 Huntley St.
The house showcases some of the photos we took during our time together. We built it together over 3 weeks, using lots of glue and paste – the bond that holds us together. We measured angles with tape measures to see how far we’ve come. It was important to take our time with the house, because “we’ve come a long way”.
While we built the house, we reflected on memories of the past house, and talked about the new building: what people missed about the old house, and what people hoped for moving forward in the new 58,000 square foot purpose-built facility. For some clients, it was the first time in the new space.
The house symbolizes the memories we had in the old house, and all the people we have lost, and reflecting on the history of HIV, “so no one forgets.”
Casey House is Canada’s first and only stand-alone hospital for people living with HIV/AIDS. Founded in 1988, Casey House occupied a house on Huntly street but has recently moved into a modern new facility in July 2017. Casey House continues to provide a continuum of care to those living with HIV. It offers 14-sub acute care beds, a day health program, and community outreach for people living with HIV.