Art Aids Art

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Youth Day: The Power of Young People

The events of June 16, 1976 forever changed the history of South Africa. 

Several thousand students marched peacefully to protest against a directive by the Apartheid government, which had made the Afrikaans, the language spoken by the dominant White minority, required for all as a medium of instruction. 

On their way to the Soweto rally the students were met by armed police, who launched teargas and fired live ammunition. The incident led to a revolt and eventually a sustained nationwide uprising against the government. 

Youth Day in South Africa is celebrated in memory of all the youngsters who lost their lives during the protest, including Hector Pieterson, a 12 year-old student.  Images of Pieterson being carried through the streets led to international revulsion and political action against South Africa’s brutal regime.
Youth Day reminds us of the power of young people to organize for positive change.  Support the young people in your life to educate themselves about democracy and justice, and to work toward transforming the world for the better. 

Photo: Sam Nzima

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Beads of Change meets Project Runway

Art Aids Art first met fashion designer Mondo Guerra at the San Gabriel Valley AIDS Action Summit, where he was keynote speaker.  Guerra gained international exposure as a contestant on TV’s Project Runway, making news not only by creating winning designs, but by publicly revealing his HIV+ status for the first time.  Following his keynote address, we were able to share a few words with Guerra and presented him with a South African AIDS pin.

Meanwhile in South Africa, artisans in our Women’s Skills Development Program were launching a new entrepreneurial initiative called Beads of Change.  We contacted them to share news from the summit, and during our brainstorm session decided to approach Guerra about featuring his winning Pozitivity design in beads.   He loved the idea and ordered 250 pins.

“Art has always helped me overcome difficulties in my life,” Guerra said.  “I’m proud to support Art Aids Art and Beads of Change to empower people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS through their art.”

Since that time, Beads of Change has produced custom designs for several South African tour groups and is ready to take orders. 

We hope to connect Beads of Change with American companies and organizations and invite you to send us your ideas.  Email us at to receive flyers that you can share with your contacts. 

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Celebrating African women on Aug. 9: Women's Day


On August 9, 1956, 20,000 South African women participated in a national march to protest pass laws designed by the White-minority Apartheid government to control the movement of Blacks. The marchers brought petitions signed by over 100,000 women opposed to the laws, which required them to carry pass books that could be checked at any time by police.  (photo by Jurgen Schadeberg, from Art Aids Art's traveling exhibit).

 On the way to protest at the Union Buildings, the women sang the following freedom song:

Wathint’ abafazi,
wathint’ imbokodo,
uza kufa!
[When] you strike the women,
you strike a rock, you will be crushed [you will die]!

Since 1994, August 9 has been recognized as National Women’s Day in South Africa.  Art Aids Art solutes the spirit of these courageous women as a reminder that we must all continuously work toward social justice for all people. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Art Aids Art at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Creativity in Crisis: Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt

Art Aids Art is proud to participate in the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, D.C.
A focal point of the event is Creativity in Crisis: Unfolding the AIDS Memorial Quilt, recognizing the power of the arts to heal in times of trauma and grief. It's hard to believe that this year marks the 25th anniversary of the NAMES Foundation's AIDS Quilt (and the 30th anniversary of AIDS). The world’s largest piece of community art with over 48,000 panels, it was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

If you’ve ever seen the quilt in person, I’m sure you haven’t forgotten the experience. I remember the last time it came to the Rose Bowl as if it was yesterday. From afar, the Quilt's massive size takes your breath away. Up close, the messages and sentiments expressed in each panel tear your heart in half… and perhaps incite a bit of seething rage at forces that have slowed medical advances and multiplied the suffering of those who have suffered with symptoms and stigmas (and all too often perished).

From July 4-8 at the Folklife Festival, Art Aids Art is exhibiting the art and handcrafts of 25 individual artisans and 5 collectives to highlight ways in which South African communities are responding to poverty and disease in innovative and resourceful ways. If you live near the capital, we urge you to visit. Let’s work together to conquer HIV/AIDS and to advocate for the human rights of those carrying the virus.

If you know anyone who has died of AIDS, we invite you to click the comment link below and leave them a message.

Photos courtesy of The Names Project Foundation.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

History's only Vagina-friendly M&M's

In support of the 2011 Vagina Monologues at Mills College, Art Aids Art ordered custom printed M&M’s to commemorate the event. The Mars company informed us that use of the word “vagina” was inappropriate.  How was this possible in 2011, we ranted?

In response, we conceived some references that would make it past the censors.  However, when we placed a second order, Mars informed us that the original was mistakenly accepted.  So here they are, history’s only vagina-friendly M&M’s!  #Vagina

Thursday, May 24, 2012

JUNGLE JUSTICE 2012: Service learning highlights from Cape Town, South Africa

Art Aids Art’s annual social action trip to Cape Town combined education,
volunteering and socially conscious tourism.

Prior to our arrival, Khayelitsha mothers planted the first seedlings
for the rooftop garden at eKhaya eKasi Center.
Thanks to Nicholas Ornstein & Alexis Randolph
for sponsoring the garden's launch.

Members of the Women's Skills Program (Nokhanyiso, Esther & Nosakhele)
prepared a feast to welcome our U.S. volunteers...

...who, in the spirit of service, joined in (Sam with Nadeem & Yoliswa).

The Jungle Justice team received a tour of the center led by new coordinator Lulama Sihlabeni (in white). We were honored that Board Members Jennifer Fletcher and Juliana Jones (far right) were among the intrepid group. They were joined by Art Aids Art intern and musician Sam McAdam, journalist Justin Chapman and musician Bruce McAdam.

After the day's activities, we were treated to lamb curry, chicken, squash, greens,
fried potatoes and samp (similar to hominy).

The welcome concluded with a surprise announcement of the Tripadvisor Award to
Blue On Blue's Yoliswa and Nadeem (visit our home page for further info).

Farewells came all too soon!

The Women's Skills Program continues to work on new designs, such as...

...these heart ornaments made with shwe-shwe fabric and felt.

During literacy and theater exercises, there was a cross-cultural discovery that similar versions of
"Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" exist in both Xhosa and English.

The new theater project launched with a rendition of the children's story Jamela's Dress.

More to come!

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Art Aids Art 60-second Poll: What are your favorite new African art & handcrafts?

Art Aids Art's supporters continuously give us great feedback about the work that we source from southern African artisans, providing a livelihood to families who are lifting themselves out of poverty.  

With that in mind, we ask you to take 60 seconds to choose your favorites (up to 10) from our new arrivals.  Your input will help us to provide feedback to the artists and focus our marketing for the 2011 holiday season.  

To thank you for your effort, you will be entered into a drawing for $25 in credit at, our online store.  The drawing will be held on September 21, so take a minute now to give your input.  

To register for the drawing, please leave your full name by clicking the comments link below on the right (if you know that we already have your email address), or simply email us to say that you voted. Thank you!

Art Aids Art promotes education and sustainable economic development through the arts.
We support cross-cultural exchanges between Americans and South Africans.

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