World AIDS Awareness Day on Saturday, Dec. 1 will be marked by a series of events and programs at Lehigh University that will include the display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt
and an awareness program using rubber wristlets to illustrate how AIDS spreads and impacts the community.
Sections of the internationally celebrated AIDS Memorial Quilt—a 54-ton, handmade tapestry that stands as a memorial to the more than 90,000 individuals lost to AIDS—will be on display from Monday, November 26 through Saturday, Dec. 1 in the Great Room in Lamberton Hall.
, the university-wide program that links arts, learning and life, will also mark the date by shrouding the sculpture lining Memorial Walkway to honor the loss of those who succumbed to the disease, and to raise awareness of AIDS and its cost to society.
The free exhibit in Lamberton is being co-sponsored at Lehigh by the Community Affairs Office, the Student Activities Office, University Productions Special Events, and LGBTQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Ally) Services. It is offered in coordination with the NAMES Project Foundation that was established in 1987 to provide a creative means for remembrance and healing, and to effectively illustrate the enormity of the AIDS pandemic.
“A very moving, personal tribute”
“Each of these panels represent someone lost to AIDS, and they collectively convey a very moving, personal tribute that underscores the tragic loss of life as a result of this disease,” says Carolina Hernandez, director of Community Service at Lehigh.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt began with a single 3 x 6 foot panel created in San Francisco during the mid-1980s. Today, it is composed of more than 47,000 individual 3 x 6 foot panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS.
The panels come from every state in the nation, every corner of the globe and they have been sewn by hundreds of thousands of friends, lovers and family members into this epic memorial, the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world, according to NAMES Project Foundation Executive Director Julie Rhoad.
At the request of Timothy Gardner, director of LGBTQA Services, the Lehigh exhibit is comprised of quilt squares that honor and commemorate local men and women.
Illustrating how quickly the epidemic spreads
Running concurrent with the AIDS Memorial Quilt exhibit will be a low-profile awareness campaign originated by Hernandez and endorsed by Tara Frank, director of Student Activities. Hernandez and Frank will distribute wrist bands to five to 10 people to symbolize the spread of AIDS. Those recipients will, in turn, each distribute bands to five to 10 people, who will continue the practice until 500 wristbands have been given out across the campus.
“The idea,” says Hernandez, “is to show how quickly an epidemic can spread, and how we can all be touched by it, even if we don’t know its victims. You might be sitting at a meeting or in classroom, and see someone you don’t even know with the wristband, and realize how you’ve been impacted by it.”
For more information on World AIDS Awareness Day at Lehigh, please call Carolina Hernandez in the Community Services Office at (610) 758-6674. For more information on the NAMES Project and The AIDS Memorial Quilt, please go online
or call the national headquarters at (404) 688-5500.
For more information on ArtsLehigh’s “Day Without Art” project, please call (610) 758-5774 or go online
to learn more about other related events.