Quilt panels return to Renaissance Center for World AIDS Day

For the fourth year, panels from the internationally recognized AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed at The Renaissance Center in Dickson for a special one-day exhibit to observe World AIDS Day on Saturday, Dec. 1.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt is the world's largest community art project consisting of thousands of quilt panels, each memorializing a victim of the AIDS epidemic. The NAMES Project Foundation coordinates the quilt project that has panels in traveling displays serving as memorials and to raise awareness in the battle against AIDS.

"This tradition at The Renaissance Center is a positive step in the ongoing battle to promote awareness and education in response to the global AIDS epidemic," said Armon Means, gallery curator at The Renaissance Center. "The panels will be on display throughout the day Saturday, Dec. 1, with a special reception that evening."

Three panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed outside the Visual Arts Gallery.
A special reception will be held 5:30-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, in the center's rotunda.

This year's reception will once again feature locally renowned choir Nashville in Harmony, a 65-member mixed soprano/alto/tenor/bass chorus comprised of members and supporters of Middle Tennessee's GLBT community. Directed by Don Schlosser, Nashville in Harmony performs all styles of music, from classical to pop, in a unique style that fosters community, joy and fun.

One man's desire to remember victims of AIDS led to the creation of what is now recognized as the largest community art project in the world. The AIDS Memorial Quilt, with the names of more than 44,000 victims of the disease, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and has been viewed by more than 14 million people.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt was initiated by Cleve Jones, who was the organizer of an annual candlelight march in San Francisco to remember Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone. While planning the 1985 march, Jones learned that more than 1,000 San Franciscans had died from AIDS. He asked his fellow marchers to write on placards the names of friends and loved ones who had died from the disease and when those placards were taped to the wall of the San Francisco Federal Building, it looked like a patchwork quilt.

Inspired by the sight, Jones and friends began planning a larger memorial and a year later he created the first panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in memory of his friend Marvin Feldman. The NAMES Project Foundation was created by Jones, Mike Smith and others in June 1987.

That October the Quilt was displayed in Washington D.C. for the first time with 1,920 3-foot-by-6-foot panels, each honoring an AIDS victim. It returned to Washington in 1988 with 8,288 panels and the tradition of reading the names displayed on the quilts began.

By 1992, the AIDS Memorial Quilt included panels from every state and 28 countries and in January 1993 the NAMES Project Foundation was invited to march in President Clinton's inaugural parade.

The Quilt has now grown to more than 44,000 panels, each displaying a name. It was last displayed in its entirety in Washington in 1996.

Sections of the Quilt are used in displays throughout the world to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic and those displays have raised more than $3 million for AIDS service organizations.

For more information on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit www.aidsquilt.org.
For more information on the AIDS Memorial Quilt Display and reception at The Renaissance Center, contact Means at (615) 740-5545 or armon.means@rcenter.org, or visit www.rcenter.org.

The Renaissance Center is a fine arts education and performing arts center at 855 Highway 46 South in Dickson, just 35 miles west of Nashville on Interstate 40 at exit 172.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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