Thursday, July 5, 2012

The AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

A highlight each summer in Washington. D.C., is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  Every year, the  Smithsonian Institution invites organizations, states, and countries who are celebrating a milestone in their history to display their achievements.   This year marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Names Project Aids Memorial Quilt which was started in 1987.

 Created for the AIDS Memorial Quilt by Yves St. Laurent

The AIDS quilt is the largest living memorial of its kind in the world.  Consisting of 48,000 panels, commemorating more than 91,000 names, the quilt will be on display during June and July throughout the Washington D.C. area. Above, we are showing a panel created by designer Yves St. Laurent, which will be shown at The Quilt Store in Farragut Square. The heartfelt message reads simply, "In memory of Stephen. We are ravaged by AIDS.... There must be no respite in the battle to defeat AIDS."

Created in memory of Richard L. Cotter II

The memory quilt panels are comprised of many different fabrics, including unusual fabrics for quilts such as suede, leather, mink, taffeta, and Bubble Wrap. Sometimes, fabric from the loved one's clothing, such as t-shirts, jeans, jackets, or hats is included.   Above, we are showing a panel which, in our opinion, must have been made by an experienced quilter. The artist has chosen restful muted colors of chambray blue, gold, brown, and cinnamon red. The cats are carefully appliqued, and the patchwork border complements the inner part of the quilt. Neatly arranged lettering and a well-spaced meandering quilting pattern form a very pleasing cohesive, almost heirloom look to this panel.

Created by Tommy Hilfiger in memory of designer Perry Ellis

Tommy Hilfiger, the American designer of traditional, classic sportswear styles, writes about fellow designer Perry Ellis...."I was inspired by Perry Ellis' spirit. He took American fashion and made it new, injecting humor and his own unique sense of style into his designs. I chose the most basic of design techniques for this panel, the rudimentary patchwork..........that still translates into American fashion today. The actual design of the panel was not as important as the involvement and kindred spirit it creates amongst us."

Created in memory of Keith Haring

Keith Haring (1958-1990)  was a New York artist whose drawings and paintings were inspired by the street art that he saw around him.  Here is an entire 12' by 12' block devoted to Keith and his work. The outlines of this "pop art" or comic book style look deceptively easy to draw; however the creators of this block have an excellent sense of movement and perspective, in our opinion.  Their talent gives gravity and dignity to scenes from every day life.

A completed block of  the AIDS quilt

During the past 25 years, individual quilt panels have been created by the loved ones of someone who has passed away due to AIDS-related causes. Each 3 feet by 6 feet panel is donated to the The Names Project Foundation where they are sewn into 12 feet by 12 feet blocks. A typical AIDS quilt block contains eight individual panels.

Spectators viewing the quilt display

When the entire Memorial Quilt is laid out, it covers more than 29 acres of land, and its size comprises more than 1.3 million square feet. If a visitor spent only one minute at each panel, it would take him or her 33 days to view all the panels.  

Quilt display on the National Mall, Washington, D.C.

From July 21-25 2012, the Memorial Quilt will be laid out by volunteers in its entirety for the first time since 1996. It will take four days to display all 48,000 panels. Weighing an estimated 54 tons, the quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.  This stirring, inspiring work of art is maintained by  The Names Project Foundation. Their website contains instructions for those wishing to create a panel to donate to the Memorial Quilt.


  1. Thank you for telling us more about this extraordinary quilt! I was aware that there were a number of parts to the whole AIDS quilt, but I had no idea how many - amazing and sad.

  2. Wow - I remember when this was first out. It's an incredibly powerful thing. I wish we could see it.


We love reading each and every comment... thanks for visiting our blog!

Related Posts with Thumbnails