In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco 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 meeting of devoted friends and lovers served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.
The idea for the AIDS Quilt was conceived in November of 1985 by long-time San Francisco gay rights activist Cleve Jones. Jones after learning that over 1,000 San Franciscans had been lost to AIDS. He asked each of his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of friends and loved ones who had died. Jones and others stood on ladders taping these placards to the walls of the San Francisco Federal Building. The wall of names looked like a patchwork quilt.
Jones and friends made plans for a larger memorial. A little over a year later, he created the first panel for the AIDS Memorial Quilt in memory of his friend Marvin Feldman. Response to the Quilt was immediate. People in the U.S. cities most affected by AIDS — Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco — sent panels to the San Francisco workshop. Generous donors rapidly supplied sewing machines, equipment and other materials, and many volunteered tirelessly.
The mission of the AIDS Memorial Quilt Archive Project is to preserve the powerful images and stories of our fallen brothers and sisters and expand our AIDS awareness and HIV prevention education efforts.
To date all more than 50,000 hand-crafted 3-by-6 panels commemorating the lives of more than 105,000 people who died of AIDS or related illnesses creating a moving and permanent visual record of the AIDS pandemic.
Last month it was announced that AIDS Memorial Quilt is returning home to San Francisco and will be housed at the to the National AIDS Memorial in San Francisco where you can search for panels of loved ones and friends.
God bless all our fallen they will be in our hearts and our memories now and always.
In June of 1987, a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would neglect and celebrate the lives of people who have died of AIDS–related causes. 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 meeting of devoted friends and lovers served as the foundation of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.
Today the Quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic. More than 48,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels — most commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS — have been sewn together by friends, lovers and family members.
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.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt returns to New York City for a two-day public display, featuring 260 12-foot-by-12-foot sections of this internationally celebrated, handmade tapestry. Presented as a gift to the city by Kiehl’s Since 1851, the Governor’s Island display will begin with a special opening ceremony/press opportunity at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 11. This opening dedication is a part of the fifth annual Kiehl’s LifeRide for amfAR, a charity motorcycle ride that raises funds and awareness for amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, which is dedicated to ending the global AIDS epidemic.
The Quilt display is free and open to the public and will be on view from 10 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. on August 11 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 12. The display will feature more than 2,000 panels honoring over 5,014 individuals including many created by and for individuals who call New York home as well as panels created by leading fashion houses like Giorgio Armani, Anna Sui, Ralph Lauren and BCBG to honor those in the industry who were lost to the pandemic. In recognition of the annual Kiehl’s LifeRide for amfAR, a new panel for The Quilt created by Kiehl’s will also be unveiled and dedicated at this event.
If you are in or around New York City please go and remember and pay respects to those who we lost during the darkest time of our history.