American International College’s West Wing Gallery in the Karen Sprague Cultural Arts Center played host to sections of The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in late November and early December 2017.
The College proudly displayed The Quilt for the public in conjunction with its 30th anniversary.
The internationally celebrated 54 ½-ton, handmade tapestry has stood as a memorial to and celebration of the lives of more than 96,000 individuals lost to AIDS since 1987. Many who died of AIDS-related causes in the 1980s did not receive funerals due to the social stigma attached to the disease and the refusal of many funeral homes and cemeteries to handle the deceased’s remains. Without the ability to hold memorial services or have access to burial sites, The Quilt was often the only opportunity family members, friends, and survivors had to remember and celebrate the lives of those they lost. Individual quilt panels are typically very personalized and are created by the loved ones of an individual who died of AIDS-related causes. By design, each panel is three feet by six feet, the size of a human grave.
The College displayed 20 blocks, and the response was very positive, with requests from the Boston area, Cape Cod, and Connecticut to have specific panels included.
The Quilt, maintained and displayed by The NAMES Foundation, serves two purposes—to bring awareness to the enormity of the AIDS pandemic and to provide support to those affected by it, and to raise funds for community-based AIDS service organizations and to increase funding for AIDS prevention and education.
Featured Photo Credit: Seth Kaye