Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Walk into AFAN’s Education Department on Thursday afternoon and you'll be delighted. Twenty or so people will be talking about art — everything and anything you can imagine from paints and paint brushes to canvases, fabric, and beads. It's a perfect mess, but it's also the kind of mess you want in your life.

This is SMOOSH.

SMOOSH is a creative workshop that provides a safe and artsy atmosphere for those who are HIV positive to come and create art. For those who aren’t so artsy, we are all welcome too.

“I continue to see the need for group projects. You would be surprised how therapeutic the experience can be for the artists,” said Alex Flores, artist in residence. “It provides them with an unparalleled sense of community. If they want to talk about living with HIV they are able to find the support they need, but if they simply want to come and escape they are in a place where they are able to do so.”

The group’s next project will be collages. Flores is encouraging people to create a collage reflecting their experience with HIV/AIDS. The artwork can portray the struggles and losses they have faced, which has been proven to help people deal with the challenges they face.

As funding allows, the group also takes part in “Art Experiences.” Art experiences include activities such as pottery workshops: Giselle by Nevada Ballet, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Bodies Exhibit.

These outings reinforce the comradry of the group as they are able to experience a work of art created by someone else. It has and continues to facilitate discussions, and often provides the inspiration for new works.

“The healing of hearts, souls, and minds happen here at AFAN on Thursday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. when I hear laughter and see smiles that rise from individuals that never felt they had a reason to smile, or compassion that blossoms from a friendship made while creating a piece of art, said Lane Olson, Prevention Education Supervisor. “SMOOSH is truly magical; people come alive when producing something they perceive as beauty.”

SMOOSH is always in need of additional supplies and local artists who are willing lead projects with the group. If you are interested in getting involved please email Lane Olson.

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