The Alpha workshops
Dedicated to creating beauty and changing lives, the Alpha Workshops is the nation’s only non-profit organization providing creative HIV-positive individuals with industry-specific training and employment in the decorative arts. It was founded in 1995 in the Chelsea area of Manhattan and modeled on the famed Omega Workshops, the Weiner Werkstatte, the Bauhaus, and the American Arts and Crafts movement. The multi-faceted organization encompasses the Alpha Workshops Studio School (AWSS), a vocational school licensed by the New York State Department of Education, and Alpha Workshops Studios, an award-winning professional design and decorative arts atelier staffed exclusively by AWSS graduates.
Students come from a range of educational backgrounds, with and without professional training and/or experience in related creative fields. The Alpha Workshops’ Studios offer a full spectrum of decorative arts services to interior designers and architects, including traditional custom decorative paint and plaster finishes, gilding, and on-site art installations. Alpha’s staff artists also produce hand-painted wallpapers, custom built and hand-finished case-goods, hand-fabricated lamps, and accessories made to specification and available through select showrooms.
In accordance with its mission “to provide a new model of economic development for people living with HIV/AIDS or other disabilities”, the Alpha Workshops is part of a growing movement to establish unique ways of working, teaching and doing business, primarily in service of individuals living with HIV, but with benefits for all – a do-no-harm approach to education and business.