Published on December 1st, 2008 | by Kelly Rand


Arts and Crafts on World AIDS Day

AIDS quilt panel Today is World AIDS Day. A day that is commemorated every December 1 to remind the citizens of the world that while great progress has been made in this epidemic, there is still a long way to go.

Art and craft has played a big role in both bringing awareness about the disease and how to cope. One of the most prominent displays of craft is the AIDS quilt.

Made up of individual “squares” that memorialize those who have been lost to the disease, the AIDS quilt is the largest on going community arts project in the world. It holds more than 44,000 individual panels made by friends, family and loved ones. And the 91,000 plus names displayed on the quilt, represent only 17.5 % of U.S. AIDS deaths.

Many of the panels are made with material, clothing and miscellaneous items that represent the one lost to AIDS. Just some of the items used to create the panels are:

100 year-old quilt, afghans, Barbie dolls, bubble-wrap, burlap, buttons, car keys, carpet, champagne glasses, condoms, cookies, corduroy, corsets, cowboy boots, cremation ashes, credit cards, curtains, dresses, feather boas, first-place ribbons, fishnet hose, flags, flip-flops, fur, gloves, hats, human hair, jeans, jewelry, jockstraps, lace, lame, leather, Legos, love letters, Mardi Gras masks, merit badges, mink, motorcycle jackets, needlepoint, paintings, pearls, photographs, pins, plastic, police uniforms, quartz crystals, racing silks, records, rhinestones, sequins, shirts, silk flowers, studs, stuffed animals, suede, t-shirts, taffeta, tennis shoes, vinyl, wedding rings

The quilt is approximately 1.3 million square feet and weighs more than 54 tons. This humongous quilt is a very powerful advocacy tool and one that brings together art therapy for those creating the panel, and even upcycling – using clothing and other materials and items to create a panel.

To find out more about the quilt and to search the panels visit The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

[Image from The AIDS Memorial Quilt website]

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About the Author

Kelly covers visual arts in and around Washington, DC for DCist and is editor of Crafting a Green World. Kelly has also been published by Bust Magazine and you can find her byline at Indie Fixx and Etsy’s Storque and has taught in Etsy’s virtual lab on the topic of green crafting. Kelly helps organize Crafty Bastards: Arts and Crafts Fair, one of the largest indie craft fairs on the east coast and has served on the Craft Bastard’s jury since 2007. Kelly is also co-founder of Hello Craft a nonprofit trade association dedicated to the advancement of independent crafters and the handmade movement. Kelly resides in Washington, D.C. and believes that handmade will save the world.

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