Visual AIDS’ Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops

Photo courtesy Visual AIDS

Visual AIDS needs your help to continue empowering women living with HIV in New York City.

Visual AIDS Artist Member and long-term HIV survivor Shirlene Cooper, Founder & Project Director of the Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops, leads gatherings in places across New York City that facilitate healing and dialogue around mental health and community building while fostering creativity. The first hour of the monthly Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops entails discussions of successes and stresses, shared affirmations, and presentations by experts in nutrition, housing, and activism. In the second hour, the women participate in an art-making project. Recent projects have included painting on canvas, mask-making, stained glass window design, cyanotype photographs, collage, and hand-painted t-shirts and tote bags.

The Workshops are unique in that they welcome participants at all levels, from novices making art for the first time to those who already enjoy making or studying art. Many of the workshop participants join the Visual AIDS Artist+ Registry as a result of their participation.

The popularity of the monthly workshops has created a high demand, resulting in a need for funds to grow the program. “Your support helps create safe spaces for long-term survivors, newly diagnosed, and transgender women living with HIV and AIDS. It’s a space where women feel safe talking about stigma, housing, employment, relationships, and medical issues,” Shirlene Cooper said in a press release. “More than 100 women have participated and enjoyed utilizing art as a tool for empowerment through the workshops. These workshops have brought art back into the homes and lives in our communities.”

Your support can enable Visual AIDS to grow the Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops as they expand their reach, build community, empower workshop participants, and lessen the stigma experienced by women living with HIV. $50 helps cover outreach to HIV-positive women; $100 funds facilitator costs; $250 supports the cost of art supplies for one workshop; and $500 underwrites funding for a meal and round-trip MetroCards for thirty HIV-positive women.


The next upcoming Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshop will be held on Friday, February 28, 6–8:30 p.m. at The Brooklyn Museum, featuring a curatorial tour of their upcoming exhibition, “Out of Place: A Feminist Look at the Collection”. To RSVP for this and other workshops, contact Shirlene Cooper at [email protected] and Tracy Fenix at [email protected].


To support the Women’s Empowerment Art Therapy Workshops, log on to: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/visual-aids-for-the-arts-inc/support-love-positive-women-and-women-s-empowerment-programming.

—Reporting by Hank Trout


Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.