Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Smithsonian AIDS Memorial Quilt Block

Where: Ripley Center, Concourse

When: through February 28, 2014

The 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival featured a program in which parts of the AIDS Memorial Quilt were displayed each day.  Inspired by this program, staff and others at the Smithsonian created a quilt block honoring all of those staff, family members and friends who have died of AIDS.  The block is quite large, 12' by 12', and includes the Castle and gardens in the background, with an inset of small quilt pieces - some replicas of existing blocks and others, newly created.  Flowers and bushes from the garden are crocheted, reminding me of the display at Natural History of the coral reefs.  Over 140 full-time workers, docents, volunteers, interns and friends across the Institution contributed to the effort, which took over a year to complete.

It will be sent to Atlanta, to the NAMES Project Foundation, which is the home of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  The Quilt is enormous: 48,000 panels honoring over 90,000 people.  As the AIDS crisis has faded in the United States, as people are now able to manage the disease for quite long periods of time, I think it's easy to forget just how devastating this disease was.  So many people died, in such terrible circumstances.  It's when you see the Quilt, or even a part of it, that the memories come flooding back.

Verdict: Have a look at this, both for the quilting and for the chance to be grateful that we're no longer in the midst of the crisis in the US.

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