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A Day Without Art: Dec. 1, 2008

December 1, 2008 |  6:06 am


The AIDS Memorial Quilt was laid out on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 1996. At the time, it numbered more than 40,000 panels recording the names of more than 60,000 men, women and children who had died in the pandemic. Today, worldwide, more than 22 million people have died from AIDS.

The quilt was initiated in 1987 by San Francisco activist Cleve Jones, a protege of assassinated gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk. (In Gus Van Sant's new movie, “Milk,” Jones is portrayed by actor Emile Hirsch.) It arose as a deeply felt personal remembrance and in response to federal inaction in the face of monumental tragedy.

Stitched by untold thousands of hands, the AIDS Memorial Quilt stands as the most profound work of postwar American folk art.

Silence = Death

— Christopher Knight

Photo: Associated Press