The iconic AIDS Memorial Quilt signifies loss and love like no other memorial. As we approach the tragic 30-year landmark of the AIDS pandemic in 2011, it is more important than ever to use the Quilt as a teaching tool for a generation that cannot comprehend the enormity of AIDS devastation in the world.
AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region will bring twelve 12’x12’ sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Monadnock Region to acknowledge World AIDS Day, held annually on December 1 since 1988. The purpose of the day is to engage communities in understanding, compassion and hope throughout the world using this powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic and the 30 million people who have died from AIDS worldwide.
Display locations scheduled thus far include Franklin Pierce University, Antioch College, Keene High School, Troy Elementary School, Fall Mountain High School, Vilas Middle School, the Unitarian churches in Keene and Peterborough, and the United Church of Christ in Keene. Quilt founder, Cleve Jones, will speak at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge on Wednesday, November 30. A full tour schedule will soon be available.
More than 49,000 individual 3’ x 6’ memorial panels – each one commemorating the lives of people who have died of AIDS – have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members. The Quilt weighs 56 tons, is the equivalent of 30 football fields when displayed with walkways, measures 56 miles long if all panels were laid end to end, and includes more than 94,000 names.
The Quilt has redefined the tradition of quilting in response to contemporary circumstances. A memorial, a tool for education and a work of art, the Quilt is a unique creation, an uncommon and uplifting response to the tragic loss of human life. View the Quilt: http://www.archive.aidsquilt.org/searchquilt.htm.
Global statistics indicate that 40-44,000,000 persons are living with HIV and 50% of them are women. In the United States, 1.4 million people are living with HIV/AIDS; annually, 63,000 people contract HIV, a 52% increase over 2007 statistics; and young persons ages 14-25 account for 50% of new HIV infections. In New Hampshire, there are over 1700 people living with HIV/AIDS.
AIDS Services for the Monadnock Region (www.asmronline.org), founded in 1989, is a non-profit organization committed to serving people living with HIV/AIDS in southwestern NH and funded, in part, by The Monadnock United Way and the City of Keene.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt was conceived in November of 1985 by Jones, longtime San Francisco gay rights activist. Subsequently in June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a city storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. This action served as the foundation that created the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
On October 11, 1987, the Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels. Half a million people visited the Quilt that weekend.
The overwhelming response to the Quilt's inaugural display led to a four-month, 20-city, national tour for the Quilt in the spring of 1988. Local panels were added in each city, tripling the Quilt's size to more than 6,000 panels by the end of the tour.
The Quilt returned to Washington, D.C. in October of 1988, when 8,288 panels were displayed on the Ellipse in front of the White House. In 1989 a second tour of North America brought the Quilt to 19 additional cities in the United States and Canada. By 1992, the AIDS Memorial Quilt included panels from every state and 28 countries. In October 1992, the entire Quilt returned to Washington, D.C. and in January 1993 The NAMES Project was invited to march in President Clinton's inaugural parade.
The last display of the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt was in October of 1996 when The Quilt covered the entire National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Washington, D.C. displays of October 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992 and 1996 are the only ones to have featured the Quilt in its entirety.
The Quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and remains the largest community art project in the world. The Quilt has been the subject of countless books, films, scholarly papers, articles, and theatrical, artistic and musical performances, including "Common Threads: Stories From The Quilt" which won the Academy Award as the best feature-length documentary film of 1989.