Art And Medicine Come Together At O+ Festival

“Apply pressure and elevate”

Image via @opositivefest / Facebook

A few months back, a friend of a friend commented on Instagram asking if I’d be in their art piece at a festival. Anna Laura Hafner and I had never met, but we’d been following each other online for a couple years. Anna's piece, titled The Divine Feminine, was a musical performance art piece doubling as a figure drawing experience. I checked the dates of the festival to make sure the performance aligned with my school schedule, and I signed on to perform.

My favorite aspect of the art world is the community it inspires. All walks of life are involved with art, from musicians to fashion designers, from painters to performance artists, and in the case of O+ Festival, held in Kingston, New York, even medical professionals. As if my interest in meeting an internet friend IRL wasn’t enough, the festival's mission sealed the deal.

As they declare on their website: “By exchanging the art of medicine for the medicine of art, O+ empowers communities to take control of their collection well-being.” The ticket price to attend the festival is pay what you can, making accessibility a key point. On top of receiving free wristbands in exchange for their work, participating artists also get to attend the health clinic, full of both food and medical providers.

I’m privileged to have health insurance through my school, but many artists aren't so fortunate. Every artist was able to attend the clinic, get a checkup from a nurse, and attend three other health practices at the festival. Options ranged from dentistry to podiatry to homeopathy to chiropractics. I decided to meet with providers that I knew my insurance wouldn't cover if I sought their expertise outside of the festival, and took advantage of everything from getting a massage to a reiki treatment and a consultation with an ayurvedic nutritionist. I also spoke with several nurses about recurring medical problems, and my concerns were met with validating responses rather than the typical brush off I've received at other practices. It was the least expensive art and medical experience I've attended, and the most rewarding.

Inspired by the festival and the participating artists, I interviewed Hafner on her work and involvement with O+. Click through the gallery below to read on.

Image via @annahafner / Instagram

What prompted you to get involved with O+?
I first got involved with O+ two years ago because it was a local festival, which sounded nice to me. It was still in its early stages, and I was like, 'Maybe I’ll get into this. Maybe it’ll work.' And it did! I presented a costumed performance piece, where I dressed up everyone as spirit animals or monsters. We all paraded around the street, randomly running into people. After that, I kept reapplying. It was really fun this time around, but definitely different.

Can you explain what your concept was this year?
For this year's festival, I wanted to do something that was shorter, and specifically wanted to have women, or people who identified as female, present. At the very least I wanted someone that desired to experience their own power and express themselves. I wanted to meet these people and costume them, and turn them into 'color power beings,' creating a healing color ritual with people and having a safe expression of the feminine creative power.