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The AIDS Memorial Quilt Displayed on Governors Island

August 13, 2014

On Monday, Aug. 11, and Tuesday, Aug. 12, selections from the massive AIDS Memorial Quilt were on display on Governors Island, a 172-acre island only 800 yards from lower Manhattan, accessible via a $2 ferry ride. Members of's team visited early Monday morning to take pictures and experience a portion of this legendary community folk art firsthand. The display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which is cared for by the NAMES Project Foundation, was sponsored by an ongoing partnership between Kiehl's and amfAR.

AIDS Quilt panels

Dozens of panels, each containing about six or more quilts, were arranged on the meadow in the middle of the island. At the edge of each panel was a box of tissues, most of which were untouched as we got off only the second ferry to depart for Governors Island that morning. Visitors walked around the quilts -- some in pairs, some alone, some with parents or children -- in silence.

AIDS Quilt panels

The soundtrack to the morning was a combination of mic checks from the sound people preparing for the press conference, helicopters flying to lower Manhattan and a construction crew playing popular music only a few yards away. To experience the quilt, one had to concentrate actively on the stillness amid the distraction.

AIDS Quilt panels

Each panel featured a diverse set of stories -- some of women, some of gay men, some dedicated from lovers, some dedicated from the community. The people in attendance were also diverse -- college professors, children, gay men and women. As I passed a set of panels that had me entranced by their authenticity and complexity, a mother had to ask her three daughters not to touch the quilts and to observe respectfully.

AIDS Quilt panels was able to speak with one individual who had only just then taken on the role of a volunteer. He had arrived very early that morning and was compelled to help people from the NAMES Project unfurl the quilts. In the video below, he speaks about his HIV diagnosis and what the quilt means to him as someone living with HIV.

Inspiring stories of people living with HIV.

Mathew Rodriguez is the community editor for and

Follow Mathew on Twitter: @mathewrodriguez.

Copyright © 2014 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Reader Comments:

Comment by: Robert L Ray (Compton, Ca.) Wed., Aug. 13, 2014 at 3:35 pm EDT
I made two panels for that quilt. Probably should have made more, but very emotional at the time. I hope I don't have to make any more in the future.
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