In recognition of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week and World AIDS Day, UT Dallas and the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication will hold a Reading of the Names ceremony and host a display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.
From Nov. 28 to Nov. 30, the Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Buildingmain lobby will be home to 16 panels from the quilt, the largest piece of community folk art in the world. The memorial quilt, which has served as a tribute to the lives of those who have died of HIV/AIDS since 1987, has more than 49,000 unique panels inscribed with messages, names and art.
Leticia Ferreira, PhD student in ATEC and executive producer of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week, was instrumental in helping bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt to campus.
“The AIDS Memorial Quilt represents a celebration of life, of memory, and the struggle to be acknowledged as a fellow human being,” Ferreira said. “The quilt is not only a piece of mourning, it is a piece of celebration, honoring lives and love. For my generation, it reminds us of the activists, artists and those who are unnamed that came before us. We must honor them and continue our fight to end the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.”
An installation from ATEC PhD student David Wilson will also make its debut during the quilt display. A collaboration between the school’s Public Interactives Research Lab, the Emerging Gizmology Lab and the Fabrication Lab, Wilson’s installation projection maps the 5,852 individual images that comprise the digital representation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt onto both sides of a 7 ½-foot tall reinforced cardboard star. Wilson selected the star as a symbol that connects Texas and the artistry of the quilt.
“This day connects our campus community with those across the globe who are committed to raising awareness about the AIDS epidemic and who promote safe-sex education.”
“The idea to fabricate a three-dimensional star, itself a cultural icon particularly here in Texas, came after design meetings within the Public Interactives Research Lab,” Wilson said. “Our goal was to choose a form that took cues from iconography found on the textile quilt, where motifs like trees, triangles, stars, rainbows and clothing are frequent, while also highlighting the cross-cultural nature of the effects of the pandemic, that as human beings effect and affect us all. The lone star transduces and retranslates the digital form of the AIDS Memorial Quilt into an intense source of color and light in commemoration of those who have died anonymously or alone from HIV/AIDS.”
Throughout the week, representatives from the Rainbow Guard, UT Dallas’ LGBTQIA advocacy student group, will provide statistics, safety tips and testing information. There will be free HIV testing at the Wellness Center.
On World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, the quilt display will move to the Plinth, where volunteers will take part in the Reading of the Names beginning at 10 a.m. A vigil also will take place at the Spirit Rocks.
“Hosting the Quilt and HIV/AIDS Awareness Week is important to UT Dallas because it educates our students and the surrounding community of the historical significance behind the making of the quilt,” said Dr. Jillian Round, clinical assistant professor in ATEC and project manager of HIV/AIDS Awareness Week. “The week also plays a role in informing our community about current statistical data and the power of knowing one’s status. It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to host the quilt.”
Dr. Anne Balsamo, dean of the school, has a history with the project, having developed the AIDS Quilt Touch mobile app with her research team at the New School in New York City.
“I am so grateful to the many people and groups who have come together to plan the events for UT Dallas in honor of World AIDS Day,” she said. “This day connects our campus community with those across the globe who are committed to raising awareness about the AIDS epidemic and who promote safe-sex education. I’m proud to be a part of these events.”
The Public Interactives Research Lab, in collaboration with the University of Iowa and the NAMES Project Foundation, will launch an update to the app that will allow users to annotate a digital version of the quilt and explore names and panels.
Visit the HIV/AIDS Awareness Week website for details about all the events and interactive opportunities that will be held Nov. 28-Dec. 1.