Introduction

The NAMES Project Foundation, an international nongovernmental organization,  custodian of the Aids Memorial Quilt states that the quilt is: “ the premier symbol of the AIDS pandemic, the greatest HIV prevention education tool and the largest ongoing piece of community folk art in the world.(Par. 3, line 2)”  As a result, the quilt has incalculable value for the history and culture of HIV/Aids. Over time, the quilt has had multiple purposes: “it has been used to fight prejudice, raise awareness and funding, as a means to link hands with the global community in the fight against AIDS.” All these functions serve as an explanation of why the quilt possess a lot of meaning, value, and importance not only for the victims of this complicated disease but the culture as a whole.

Initially, the Aids quilt started back in June 1987 in San Francisco, California when a group of activists wanted  “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.”  The idea of making a quilt came after a march activist Cleve Jones and friends planned to protest for the life of a thousand people who had died of AIDS and decided to tap the placards of these into the San Francisco Federal Building. Afterward, “on October 11, 1987, the Quilt was displayed for the first time on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.” Ever since the quilt have been growing creating the need for multiple chapters across the country.

As I started working with the Aids Memorial Quilt and observing different panels to choose which two of these I would research, I noticed how all of these utilize different themes, materials or artwork to portray different topics along the HIV/Aids culture. My investigation began when I took my first look at block #2411.

Block 2411 of The Aids Memorial Quilt

I started visualizing the different panels that the block contains and Eddie Colon’s panel brought my attention because of the work they made with the panel. Eddie Colon’s panel created by his family and friends includes the letters of Eddie Colon’s name to make different drawings that would describe his personality and serve the purpose of the quilt. This artistic work brought my attention and made me wonder what the meaning behind these drawings was and why they were added to the panel.

Afterward, for my second investigation, I wanted to analyze the panel of a prominent author or a well-known person. Therefore, I had the chance to take a look at Robert Chesley’s panel at block #2478.

Block 2478 of The Aids Memorial Quilt

As I looked through the entire block the brilliant colors of the LGBT Flag, also known as the Rainbow Flag, caught my eye but it was not until I saw his publications that I decided that I wanted to learn about him, who he was and his work.

When I entered into deep research on both Eddie Colon’s and Robert Chesley’s panels, I noticed how different strategies are used to deliver similar messages. Messages which would go back to the essence and purpose of the Aids Memorial Quilt and The NAMES Project Foundation. It was at this time when I realized how all of these panels have different strategies in order to serve the quilt’s purpose to protest, create awareness, and express emotions through the memory of the lost ones. These panels deliver the objective by giving life to patients, significant figures, and famous activists legacies along the historical journey of HIV/AIDS. As one devotes its time to study and research the panels of the quilt the researcher encounters itself with an immense amount of metadata that would, later on, develop a topic of investigation. Among this metadata, I found that The Quilt served its purpose by allowing people to utilize a variety of strategies as a form of protest, expression, and awareness about HIV/AIDS.

With the investigations of Eddie Colon’s and Robert’s panels, I will analyze how the panels within the quilt all in any particular way have a strategy to portray the purpose of the quilt. I will also discuss the importance of this variety and creativity for the HIV/Aids culture and the significance of the project as a whole. Furthermore, I will show how these two panels are a perfect example of how no matter who was the person, either famous or ordinary, their panels serve to protest, aware and express.

This project will focus on exposing the evident importance, meaning and value of The Aids Memorial Quilt and The NAMES Project Foundation for the HIV/Aids culture. It is essential that people are aware not only of this project but its goal to educate, inform and saves the life of the ones affected. It is of great importance that people understand the gravity of this disease, its complicity and learn about its history through the fantastic work and legacy of the lost ones.