Stories of a Generation: Loss & Hope Speak through AIDS Quilt

Published: October 09, 2012 | Author: Jen Burt | Read Time: 2 minutes

Weighing an estimated 54 tons, the NAMES Project Aids Memorial Quilt is the largest community art project in the world and an unprecedented cultural tribute to more than 48,000 individuals whose friends, partners and family members have chosen to publicly honor the beauty, love and great promise in the innumerable lives cut short by this modern-day pandemic.

Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, the AIDS Memorial Quilt covers the entire National Mall in Washington, D.C. when displayed in its entirety and, since the first blocks were stitched together in 1987, has been viewed by more than 14 million people.

Panels from this poignant cultural movement are on display at Southern Utah University through October 20th in a free art exhibit on the second floor of the Hunter Conference Center.

What’s more, students and community members have a unique opportunity to hear from Cleve Jones, founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, in the University Convocation Series on Tuesday, October 9, at Noon in the Great Hall.

Jones is lauded across the globe as the leading activist for the LGBT community. His efforts over the past two-and-a-half decades to make a positive impact on the world by increasing tolerance and support for marginalized individuals has done much to advance a more open-minded and accepting national community.

Jones will speak about the founding of the Aids Memorial Quilt among a small group of strangers in San Francisco who set out to document the lives they feared history would neglect. Their grassroots memorial to those who had died of AIDS has done more than any other single movement to help people understand the devastating impact of the disease.

The attention the quilt has generated has been a driving force behind efforts to better understand and support those living with AIDS.

Tuesday’s Convocation is part of SUU's University Hour and, as with all Convocations, is free and open to the general public.

Jones’ career as an activist began in the 1970s when he was befriended and later become a student intern for pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk, who was assassinated while serving as a San Francisco city supervisor. Jones envisioned the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt at a candlelight vigil for Milk in 1985, and made the first quilt panel in honor of his friend Marvin Feldman in 1987. The quilt now commemorates the lives of over 85,000 Americans killed by AIDS.

Jones took part in a documentary, Echoes of Yourself in the Mirror, which discusses the foundation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt; the activism of the citizens of San Francisco in the ’70s and ’80s to help people affected by AIDS and figure out what the disease was; and how HIV/AIDS is affecting communities of color and the young.

Panels of the quilt will be on display on the second floor of the Hunter Conference Center, open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

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