Starting with 28th of November 2016, Illinois State University will display intricate panels dedicated to AIDS victims as part of the world’s AIDS Day memorialization. The honorary quilts presentation will last for four days with December 1st marking the rally’s ending date.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt project dates from 1985, and intricate panels have been on display every year between November 28th and December 1st across the nation. Each panel feature intricate designs of handmade honorary quilts in memory of AIDS victims. The collection also consists of some pieces put together by local families and HIV organizations.
Today, more than 18 million people have access to AIDS treatment and the numbers keep growing. For instance, in 2015 there were 1.2 million people infected with HIV less that could benefit from a life-saving treatment than in 2016. Since the initial breakout, HIV has claimed nearly 35 million lives and infected almost 78 million more.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt project is the largest piece of community folk art as of 2016, mainly thanks to its impressive weight of almost 54 tons. The honorary quilts are personalized and created by the loved ones or next of kin of someone who has died of AIDS. The memorial pieces on display at the Illinois State University will feature 12-foot-by-12-foot works. However, some 3-inch-by-6-inch panels are donated to The NAMES Project Foundation. The size of the latter pieces holds a gruesome reminder of human’s grave measurements.
Furthermore, the 12-foot-by-12-foot panels, otherwise known as “blocks”, as well, contain eight individual panels in return. Also, each panel can be made from a variety of different materials, such as fabrics, decorative items, clothing pieces of the deceased, or even items of personal nature such as human hair or cremation ashes.
Chris Wade is an HIV project coordinator for the Illinois Public Health Association who was diagnosed with AIDS back in 1992. Since then, he has been an advocate for many other sensitive social matters as well, such as sexual, mental, and LGBT+ health issues with the main focus on minorities and communities of color. Wade is also the Central Illinois Friends of People With AIDS director and co-chair of the Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy. On December 1st, he will address the public in the Brown Ballroom at 7 p.m.
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