Lois Wilson went dumpster diving in search of ways to express her sorrow, but what she found was a loving passion to create memories.
Wilson, a Philadelphia artist, retrieved a dozen window frames from garbage bins around the City of Brotherly Love. She scrubbed the frames and began assembling collages to tell the story of her journey with the AIDS community.
“AIDS is healing the world by bringing together a mosaic of people,” reads one of the window frames.
Now on display at the World AIDS Museum and Educational Center in Wilton Manors, Wilson’s exhibit uses windows to teach people to look past stigma.
“A window is what allows us to see what it’s like from one side to another,” said Wilson, who was on hand last Friday for a meet the artist reception.
Many of the windows were created with photographs of friends Wilson has lost to AIDS.
“This community has taught me the ability to love with risk,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she was “coming of age sexually” when the epidemic hit and at least a half dozen of her high school friends “did not make it through.”
“The thing about HIV/AIDS is we are all reminded of our mortality,” Wilson said.
Spirituality too, Wilson said, plays a powerful role. She said she had attended many “retreat” style weekends in Sea Isle, New Jersey where people would form circles and share stories of life with AIDS.
“Some of the things said were deeply profound,” Wilson said.
Some of the images in her exhibit were captured at these retreats, which Wilson said provided wellness for attendees and a “feeling of wholeness within ourselves.”
The daughter of a Russian Jewish father, Wilson received her Doctorate in art and theology from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Her touring exhibit, “Through The Window: Insights Into The Spirituality of AIDS” is a dissertation and a “fulfillment of a dream,” Wilson said.
WAM Operations Manager Ed Sparan said Wilson’s work is “a great way to tell the story of HIV/AIDS and wipe away stigma.”