You probably knew that today is World AIDS Day, but perhaps you didn’t know that The Center has a couple pieces of the "AIDS Memorial Quilt
," and will be showing it until at least 10 o’clock tonight and throughout the day tomorrow. The Quilt, property of the NAMES Project Foundation, is considered the “largest piece of folk art in the world,” though it should be mentioned that only 0.1% of the Quilt is in Orlando at the moment.
The Quilt began as a single three-by-six foot panel of fabric over twenty years ago in San Francisco, and today has grown to over 40,000 panels large, with a square footage roughly equal to that of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Each panel is a piece of embroidered fabric commemorating one, or many, of the 30,000,000+ people that have died of the disease. The Florida queer art collective QUACK, in conjunction with the Center, was able to secure forty panels for display.
Also, at 7:30 tonight
, there will be a silent auction of celebrity-autographed photos (Elton John, Billy Joel, Eddie Murphy, and other big-names) and a reading of names of Central Floridians who died of AIDS this year. As of this writing, Randy Stephens of the Center hadn’t yet whittled down the Florida list: “If we read the names of all those who died in the whole state, it would take us about four hours,” Stephens says.
As QUACK president M. Scott Morgan told us, NAMES is quite serious about its role as caretaker of the Quilt. There is no food, drinks, or even water allowed in the same room as the Quilt, so tonight’s hors d'oeuvres will be served outdoors—bring a coat. There’s no flash photography allowed around the Quilt, because “one camera flash equals seven minutes of sunlight damage,” according to Morgan. Most interestingly, somebody from the NAMES Atlanta office will be in attendance tonight to make sure that the quilt is “handled with respect,” says Morgan, but that person will do so without revealing their identity.
Morgan says that he’s got “baskets of Kleenex” at the ready. “It’s going to be an intense night,” he says.