I'm taking graduate classes at Stony Brook this semester, so I was pleased to see that sections of the Aids quilt were going to be on campus on one of my class nights. After class was over I went over to the Student Center to check out the quilt show.
I didn't know what an amazing experience it was. It was like no other quilt show I have ever been to.
First the quilt panels are laid on the floor. You walk among them. As you make your way around the exhibit, it is almost like the quilt is a living thing and the people are part of it.
Then there is the realization that these quilts, for the most part, were not made by quilters. The panels were created by people who loved someone and then lost them to AIDS. There were various skill levels and techniques used. The panels were very personal.
This one shows a loved one in various pictures printed on fabric:
This one takes a suit of clothing. It is laid out on an old quilt. I can only imaging that it was his baby quilt.
An of course, whenever I go look at quilts, I look for Sunbonnet Sue or Sam. Here a precious moments character is captured on the panel.
And as you are looking at the panels, there is always someone at the microphone, reading names. That is the point of the project, the names. The list of those who died of this disease is very long and the constant reciting of names in the background is a reminder of what the project is all about.
The full panels each measured 12' x 12'. Here is a picture of one of the panels that was standing.
Many different sections make up a full panel. Only 25 panels made it to Stony Brook that night. I was in awe of the stories that each victim had to tell. The entire AIDS quilt is now more than 45,000 panels, which represents a small portion of the more than 500,000 people in the United States who have died from AIDS.
I can't imagine that many names.
For me the panel that summed it up was this one... an unfinished life.
It was an amazing quilt show.
You can get more information here: www.aidsquilt.org