As we continue this week's theme of ' ART OUTSIDE WALLS, ' the largest piece of art (by a community) is the AIDS QUILT. The AIDS QUILT was conceived by AIDS activist Cleve Jones, and officially started in 1987 in collaboration with Mike Smith, Jack Caster, Gert McMullin, Ron Cordova, Larkin Mayo and Gary Yuschalk. The AIDS QUILT earlier served as the only way of remembering the first casualties of the epidemic who were buried in secret or in nameless plots, or whom had been refused services by many funeral homes and cemeteries. The AIDS QUILT was first seen on the National Mall (in Washington, DC) in 1987, and last displayed (in full) in 1996.
According to the AIDS Memorial Foundation, ' the Quilt is a memorial to and celebration to the lives of people lost to the AIDS pandemic. Each panel is 3' by 6', approximately the size of the average grave; this connects the ideas of AIDS and death more closely, even though only about 20% of the people lost to AIDS related causes are represented. The NAMES Project Foundation is now headquartered in Atlanta, GA, and has 21 chapters in the US and more than 40 affiliate organizations world-wide. The AIDS Memorial Quilt itself is also warehoused in Atlanta when not being displayed, and continues to grow, currently consisting of more than 46, 000 individual memorial panels (over 91,000 people) and weighing an estimated 54 tons.'
If one had the opportunity to see the AIDS QUILT, the experience is moving, emotional, and unforgettable. The AIDS QUILT is both art and memorial, transcends locus, as well as time. Paradoxically, created for the departed, but in truth a necessary reminder for those who remained.
Please enjoy today's visual treat, and consider making a contribution to the Names Project--AIDS Memorial Quilt at www.aidsquilt.org.