Looking for a Valentine’s celebration that deviates from the norm of heart-shaped confectionaries and overpriced greeting cards?
Check out Exposed Heart, an art exhibition exploring the notions of love, passion, sexuality, relationships and identity with contributions from artists from AIDS Vancouver Island, PEERS (Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Recovery Society), Artemis Place, Rock Bay Landing and the Victoria Youth Clinic, at the 50/50 Arts Collective (2516 Douglas).
As a “Valternative” celebration, the opening reception is Friday, Feb. 10 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., featuring music from Hearse, a make-your-own Valentine table, a tickle trunk for dress- up, refreshments and artists.
Minneh Kamau Bushby is one of the artists representing AVI. She and three other women living with AIDS, HIV or HEP C painted body maps for the exhibition in a recent two-day workshop. Of African origin, body maps help the artist visualize and realize how the virus is affecting their body by first tracing their outline, then painting their illness, injuries, support systems and more.
For Kamau Bushby, the result was both emotional and a revelation.
“I discovered I moved on,” she says. This was the second time Kamau Bushby has painted a body map. The first time, just three years ago, the virus was front and centre. This time, it was nowhere to be found. Instead of painting the virus on her body, she wrote “I don’t feel the virus” above it.
Kamau Bushby came to Canada from Kenya in 1996 as a participant in an AIDS conference in Vancouver. She quickly came to Vancouver Island and decided not to go back. Now, as a permanent resident, she has the stability and the support to start living a healthier life and go out on her own.
“I want to be a global speaker. I’ve always spoken about my life with HIV and AIDS since I arrived here in Canada. That was just training. Now the real job is to tell the world about the virus and what it’s like to live with AIDS,” she says.
“Here I can live a normal life, but over there in Africa, it’s different.”
Kamau Bushby says he’s proud of her body map and she’s excited to share it. “The things on there that I’m ashamed of are not as important as the things I want to talk about,” she says.
The body maps are just one part of the exhibition, which was the brainchild of Hermione Jefferis, Health Promotion educator at AVI.
“What makes this exhibition different is that it’s a community collaboration. There’s art from all ages, genders, backgrounds and walks of life,” Jefferis says. M
Runs at the 50/50 Arts Collective until Feb. 21. Check thefiftyfifty.net for hours.
Opening reception Friday, Feb. 10 from 7 to 10 p.m.
Logan’s Pub is hosting a Soul Tribute fundraiser for the 50/50 Sat, Feb. 11 at 10 p.m., featuring The Chantrelles, The Old Hand 7 Diamond, Hundy Thou/Bird Brains and Soul Power Generation. Admission is $7.