Primary Source Description 1
About the Aids Quilt
The primary source of this analysis consists of the panels within the Aids Quilt. The Aids Quilt is a memorial of more than 48,000 panels of people who had died of Aids-related causes. Each of these panels has a measurement of 3 by 6 foot, resembling the average size of a grave. The quilt originated in San Francisco, California, back in 1987 by a small group of people who feared their lost ones would be forgotten because, at the time, many funeral homes and cemeteries refused to work with the remains of people with aids. Today, the quilt serves as a reminder of this epidemic and has inspired people to take action against this massive problem that thousands of people are facing. For more information about this amazing artwork and its history click here: The Aids Memorial Quilt.
Along with the quilt in 1987, The Names Project Foundation was created with the mission “to preserve, care for, and use the AIDS Memorial Quilt to foster healing, heighten awareness, and inspire action in the struggle against HIV and AIDS.” ( The Names Project Foundation) Today, the Names Project Foundation has raised over 500,000 dollars for different Aid Service organizations. Furthermore, it has raised awareness by collaborating with multiple partners across the country and visiting over a thousand universities, schools, and community centers to educate about this disease and provide information on how to avoid it. For more information about The Names Project Foundation and its history go to The Names Project Foundation.
Having this history, The Aids Memorial Quilt contains different and significant cultural messages hidden behind the creativity of these panels. These panels not only represent the vivid memory of lost ones, but it also represents their achievements, actions and voices, all in an effort to demonstrate the pain of their beloved ones, the legacy of the ones remembered, the epidemic and how it is affecting thousands of people. While having important cultural messages, this quilt simultaneously creates awareness and shows that something should be done about this.
Panel Overview, Interpretation, and Analysis
For this exercise, I will be working with Eddie Colon’s panel which is located on the low right corner of block number 2411. From bottom to top it is the second one in this block. Every single one of these panels has a measurement of 3 by 6 foot. The framework of Eddie’s panel is composed of cotton fabric and a solid black background which allows other brilliant colors to stand out. It has no layers nor borders around it, only on the right side it can be seen a border, but it is the one from the entire block. At the sides of the panel, there are four pictures, two at each side, of Eddie with his beloved ones. These four images are approximately about 7 inches wide and 10 inches long and one or two inches apart from the edge. All of them are printed and sewed to the sides of the panel. Throughout time, the color of these printed images has faded, and there are some blank spaces within them. At the bottom of the panel, there is Eddie’s date of birth and death, patched with individuals letters sewed to the panel, which are printed in grey. At the center of the panel are Eddie’s first name and last name sewed with individual letters which have printed drawings in every single one of each. All of these letters are about 11 to 12 inches long and 3 inches wide, and there is a space of two inches in between every single one of them and from the upper and bottom edge of the panel.
Eddie Colon’s panel was created by his family members and beloved ones with the purpose of remembering him for the rest of time and creating awareness of HIV and Aids. Throughout the panel, they utilize several rhetorical features in order to deliver this message to their audience. At first glance, it can be noticed how they employed Eddie’s first and last name as a visual rhetorical strategy to describe his personality while raising awareness of this issue.
United States Flag
The letter E is about three inches wide and 11 inches long and contains a section of the American flag; where it can only be seen five stars of the 50 ones within the flag. The colors of the letter are those of the American flag: white, red and blue. There might be multiple purposes as of why the American flag is included on the panel. First and foremost, the United States is where Eddie spent most of his life with his family and friends. The flag might also symbolize this is a problem that people from the entire country are facing not only him and that people have to create awareness to minimize the number of people affected by this issue.
Hill of Happiness
On the second letter D, there is a printed drawing of a house leaning on top of a hill and has a path connecting to the bottom of it. Along with this white path, there is a yellow writing that reads ” Hill of Happiness.” The house is red with white windows and white roof and the hill is colored with a dark green. At the left upper corner of this letter and drawing, a sun is standing painted with a pure yellow and one white cloud. In the background, there is a light blue sky. Although there is no information of what the ” Hill of Happiness” is, this drawing could be a representation of Eddie’s way to heaven.
I’ve been missing you, and all I do is cry…
On the letter E, there is a poem titled: “I’ve been missing you, and all I do is cry…” This poem was dedicated to Eddie, by his lover John Molina, and portrays many of the emotions that John has gone through after losing Eddie. Utilizing this short poem as a rhetorical strategy to show appeal to pathos enables him to deliver to the audience a sense of how it feels to lose someone extremely close to you. Furthermore, this poem could also serve as an example to show how hard and painful it is for thousands of people to lose their lovers and that there should be something done about this issue. The colors used in this letter, gray and black, also portrays the sense and mourning described in the poem.
Puerto Rican Flag
At the last letter, the letter N contains the Puerto Rican Flag. The colors of the letters are those of the Puertorican flag: red, white and blue.Even though there is no information about Eddie’s heritage, he might be one of the Puertoricans who migrated from Puerto Rico to NYC. Therefore, this might be one of the reasons for including the Puerto Rican flag on the panel. However, this flag could also be included in the panel as a symbolism to instruct that the United States is not the only country facing this problem. Puerto Rico being amongst the top 10 states AIDS case rates among all states and territories in 2010 as mentioned by Aids United.
Even though this panel was not about a famous activist or author it certainly represents the essence of the quilt. The ability of Eddie’s family of utilizing different rhetorical features such as symbolizims, poems, and drawings to address Eddie’ s legacy and their pain while creating awareness of this problem of is definitely mind-blowing. The fact of seeing such creative artworks describes the love of friends and family towards the person being remembered. This panel demonstrates that even people who were not popular also stand for the purpose of the quilt and somehow or someway they contributed with its main goal.
Lateef, Yasir. “The AIDS Memorial Quilt.” The Names Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2018.
Lateef, Yasir. “The NAMES Project Foundation.” The Names Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2018.