WILMINGTON — A group of community partners are working in unison to bring multiple panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to local venues in Wilmington for a month-long commemoration ahead of World AIDS Day, Dec. 1. A slate of events is also planned in its honor.
“World AIDS Day brings together survivors, families, artists, religious organizations, medical professionals, scholars, politicians, and activists to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic, reduce stigma, and mourn those who have died of the disease,” Michaela Howells, UNCW Department of Anthropology, said in a press release.
UNCW is one of many community partners, including LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast (formerly the Frank Harr Foundation), SEEDS of Healing, and Novant/NHRMC, hosting events. Panels will be featured at venues throughout Wilmington, including:
- Cameron Art Museum
- UNCW Randall Library
- UNCW Cultural Arts Building
- UNCW Kenan Auditorium
- UNCW Veterans Hall
- Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center
- St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
- St. Stephen A.M.E. Church
The largest piece of folk art worldwide, the quilt began in 1987 in San Francisco at the height of the AIDS crisis, once displayed in a storefront on Market Street in the Castro District. The same year on Washington’s National Mall, during the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, the quilt went on display for the world to see.
It since has grown exponentially, today featuring 50,000 panels that recognize and honor 105,000 people who lost their lives to the virus. It has been relocated to Atlanta and weighs 54 tons, with each panel measuring 12-foot-by-12-foot. Eight or nine names are highlighted on the panels, hand-sewn and decorated by loved ones commemorating their departed friends and family (all names represented on the quilt can be searched through the quilt’s interactive database).
Each year, panels are dispersed for World AIDS Day so communities can celebrate and honor those who have lost the fight, and stand with those who continue to battle the virus. The quilt is not only commemorative, it works as an ever-evolving piece of art that inspires activism and education.
Since the AIDS crisis began, over 79 million people have been infected with the virus and over 36 million have perished. Though modern medicine has reduced the viral load and in essence helped many people survive, the epidemic still affects marginalized communities that don’t have access to healthcare.
The LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast noted the southeast region as “one of the nation’s areas of increasing rates for new HIV infections and number of persons living with HIV.” It will be hosting one of numerous events — including free HIV testing — planned around the quilt’s two-week exhibition.
More events will be planned in March 2022 at UNCW as part of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, which takes place Mar. 10. Panels of the quilt will remain on display at UNCW venues until the end of March, in association with the Office of the Arts’ Artivism for Change. The program focuses on art that centers on social justice, with hopes to inspire community engagement and empowerment.
Below are events scheduled from Sunday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Dec. 5:
Nov. 21, 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Free Reading of Quilt Stories: A Staged Reading, by Mouth of Babes Theatre
UNCW Randall Library Auditorium, RM 2047
Local theater company Mouths of Babes, in partnership with UNCW, will present a works-in-progress play. “Quilt Stories” is a monologue-based performance, inspired by interviews from people who lost loved ones to the AIDS crisis.
It’s described as “a meditation on life, love, and loss,” inspired by the quilt’s various panels, each honoring a life, each telling its own story.
The hour-long performance will be a staged reading, followed by a brief talk afterward.
Nov. 28, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
World AIDS Day Memorial Quilt Reception and Remembrance
Brooklyn Arts Center Annex, 516 N 4th St.
The official reception will feature heavy hor d’oeuvres from Milner’s Cafe and Catering and a cash bar will be open. Hosted by LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast, the official welcome of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and the recognition of World AIDS Day aims to bring awareness to the ongoing epidemic.
Proceeds from the event benefit the LGBTQ Center’s ongoing HIV outreach and education efforts. Masks will be required indoors.
Nov. 30, noon – 1:30 p.m.
AIDS Memorial Quilt making tutorial/demonstration • Free
LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast, 1624 Princess St.
Learn how panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt are made and added to the overall tapestry. For those who can’t make the Nov. 30 event, appointments can be scheduled at the center.
Dec. 1, 1 p.m.
Free HIV Testing and Amazon gift card
LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast, 1624 Princess St.
Day Without Art • Free
UNCW Cultural Arts Building, UNCW campus
An international day of action and mourning in response to the AIDS Crisis, the Cultural Arts Building will be one of over 800 arts organizations, museums and galleries throughout the U.S. participating by shrouding artworks. In their stead will be information about HIV and safer sex, as the gallery locks its doors or dims its lights, to produce exhibitions, programs, readings, memorials, rituals, and performances.
Dec 3, 7:30 p.m.
UNCW Symphonic Band • $10
UNCW Kenan Auditorium, UNCW campus
The concert will feature UNCW Symphonic Band — students from the department of music and from across campus — performing the finest literature available for winds, including traditional wind band repertoire, marches, transcriptions and the newest 21st-century works. It will be conducted by Dominic Talanca.
Dec. 4, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
SEEDS of Healing (SOH) is hosting the 4th Red Ribbon event at the Cameron Art Museum. The event carries with it the community collaborative message: “ThinkRedILM”.
Entertainment will be performed a solo pianist Duke Ladd and HIV/AIDS activist and educator Ms. Alicia Diggs, CEO and founder of “I Will Live,” will be the keynote speaker.
All attendees will have access to view the AIDS Memorial Quilt but will also be able to view all of CAM’s current exhibits, including “Pinkie’s Memories” by Pinkie Strother and Stephen Hayes’ “Voices of Future’s Past,” plus his bronze sculpture “Boundless,” recently installed to honor the USCT Colored Troops.
Dec. 5, 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
AIDS Quilt Community Display • Free
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 16 N. 16th St.
View the quilt on display from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the historic church, located at the corner of 16 and Market streets in downtown Wilmington.
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