Two 12-foot sections of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed Tuesday through Dec. 13 in the central court of the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art at Kansas University.
The museum, along with other arts organizations, will recognize Dec. 1 as Day Without Art, in conjunction with the World Health Organization's fifth annual World AIDS Day. As part of the KU museum's observance, the exhibition "Keith Haring Prints, William Burroughs Text" has been extended through Dec. 1. New York artist Keith Haring died of AIDS in 1990.
The NAMES Project AIDS Quilt began in San Francisco as a protest of one person, Cleve Jones, against the AIDS epidemic. Jones was searching for a way to make the public aware of the death and tragedy AIDS was causing around the world, especially among gays. In June 1987 he spray-painted the name of a friend who had died of AIDS, Marvin Feldman, onto a piece of cloth. Others made memorial panels, and soon the tributes grew into a quilt.
The NAMES Project Foundation coordinates displays of portions of the quilt worldwide to encourage visitors to understand and respond to the AIDS epidemic, to provide a means of expression for those grieving the death of a loved one and to raise funds for AIDS victims.
The quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. "Common Threads," a film about the quilt, won the Academy Award as Best Feature Documentary of 1989. Since 1987, more than 2.5 million people have seen the quilt, and it has been used to raise more than $1 million for AIDS service organizations.
Each section of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is made of eight 3-foot-by-6-foot panels, each commemorating someone who died of AIDS. The panels contain everything from fabric to photographs and mementos. The panels on display will represent only a tiny fraction of the more than 22,000 panels from all 50 U.S. states and 27 countries that make up the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. The entire quilt represents only 13 percent of AIDS deaths in the United States and 2 percent of those worldwide.