Out Of Our Dreams


Contact: Eduardo Guzman – 212 337-8043, ext. 335 (


For the five Latino immigrant artists preparing to present their work at AID FOR AIDS International (AFAI) on May 20-22, there is a lot more at stake than another showcase.  There’s the realization of a lifelong dream: to be free to express themselves through their art, without fear of homophobic violence and discrimination.

“In my country, Venezuela, a gay man with HIV doesn’t have the right of free expression,” says Yder Laya, a ceramic artist who describes himself and his HIV+ colleagues as “political refugees.”  “I lost my job in marketing because of who I am. Just the idea of showing my art in public would be unthinkable over there.”
Jose Gonzalez, a Venezuelan painter, concurs fully. “Just to be able to invite my family to come to the show to see who I am as a person and an artist, is an incredible thing. We are all so grateful for this opportunity.” 
In AID FOR AIDS, an organization that assists people living with HIV or AIDS in Latin America and the U.S., the five artists found the emotional support to allow them to find their creative voices and craft their own personal visions. Part of the proceeds from this weekend’s showcase will benefit the activities of AFAI.

“We speak constantly about empowerment, about helping people find the tools and the strength to live lives that are not defined solely by their HIV status,” says AFAI founder and executive director Jesus Aguais. “The story of the rebirth of these five artists represents the living embodiment of that idea. We’re tremendously excited about being involved in this show.”

In addition to Laya and Gonzalez, the artists displaying their work are:  Edmundo Rodriguez, a graphic artist and mask maker;  and painters Arid Orozco and Jose Vasquez. All are Venezuelan natives, except Vasquez, who is from Puerto Rico.

The show will be held at AFAI’s Manhattan headquarters on the 2nd floor of 515 Greenwich St, near the corner of Greenwich and Spring Streets. The opening from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 20, will feature a cocktail reception.

AFAI, founded in 1996, runs the world’s largest HIV/AIDS medication recycling program. The organization collects unused and unexpired medicine in the U.S, and redistributes it free of charge to needy recipients in 35 developing nations. Over the past 15 years, AFAI has distributed more than $70 million worth of free antiretroviral medication to thousands of individuals and health clinics. In addition to recycling, AFAI operates an HIV preventive education program in Latin America and the Caribbean that reaches nearly 600,000 adolescents; a Children’s Program in the region that helps youngsters (3 to 15 years of age) learn to live with HIV; and a case management program serving hundreds of Spanish-speaking immigrants in New York City living with HIV/AIDS.

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