Southern Utah University will host the AIDS Memorial Quilt as part of a larger art exhibition examining political and cultural statements made by quilts, fabric and embroidery. The quilt will be on display at the Hunter Conference Center, Oct. 8-20.
In addition to the quilt display, Cleve Jones, one of the founders of the quilt project, will speak Oct. 9, 12 p.m. Jones helped start the quilt project in 1985 and it now weighs more than 54 tons and is the largest piece of American folk art in the country.
During a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the 1978 assassinations of San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone, Jones had people write the names of loved ones that were lost to AIDS on signs that would be taped to the San Francisco Federal Building. All the signs taped to the building looked like an enormous patchwork quilt to Jones, and he was inspired. Jones was also the grand marshal for the 2009 Utah Pride Festival and Parade.
“What really surprised us is the excitement from the community and around campus,” said Michael French, a university spokesperson. “We have so many different departments getting involved with the project.”
In an attempt to create a broad coalition of people to be involved, there will be movie screenings, a dramatic reading and presentation, a carnival to commemorate National Coming Out Day and even a presentation about viruses from the biology department, French said.
After deciding to curate an exhibit focusing on quilts and embroidery, the AIDS Memorial Quilt seemed like such a natural fit, he said. Although the organizers didn’t think Jones would be able to come to Southern Utah for a presentation, they decided to try anyway.
“He really was our first pick. We just thought in a perfect world he would be the best speaker,” French said. “We’re so excited to have him and for the chance to have students get to meet him.”
For more information about the quilt display and the other events, go to suu.edu/pva/artgallery.