Auteur: Cindy Ruskin
Stories From The NAMES Project
From our earliest days, the quilt and the quilting bee have been part of American life. For the individual, stitching a quilt is an act of love, creativity, and continuity. For the community, the quilting bee is an expression of solidarity and hope, endurance and joy.
THE QUILT: Stories From The NAMES Project tells how in 1987 a small group of volunteers in a San Francisco storefront workshop revived the old-fashioned notions of the quilt and the quilting bee, and how their courage and determination — and that of hundreds of other quilters all across the country — created what has become the largest on-going community arts project in America: The Quilt. Nearly 2,000 three-by-six foot individual panels have been designed and sewn into The Quilt. Each one celebrates the life of someone who has died of AIDS and the love and hope of those who have made the panels in remembrance.
Many of these panels are depicted in full color in THE QUILT and are accompanied by letters and stories about those honored and about some of the thousands of mothers, fathers, siblings, lovers, friends, and neighbors who made the panels. "I am so proud to include my son's name among all the others, the brave, dear victims of this dreadful disease," a mother writes. "It will be such a comfort to me and all of us who grieve for them to know that their deaths now will serve a very useful purpose in bringing attention to all Americans, and all the world, the enormity of this catastrophe. "
"This didn't turn out exactly as I envisioned," a man writes in the letter that accompanied the panel he created, "but I'm not exactly Betsy Ross. "
The NAMES Project first displayed The Quilt October 11, 1987, in front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D. C. , where it covered a space larger than two football fields. In the spring of 1988, The Quilt travels to some 25 major American cities where its message of love and remembrance will reach tens of millions. In October 1988, The Quilt returns to Washington. Panels continue to arrive from across the country, and friends, lovers, and family continue to grieve and to find in The Quilt the outward and visible manifestation of the courage and conviction that this most American of endeavors has always symbolized.
Now in THE QUILT: Stories From The NAMES Project the beauty and spirit of The Quilt can live on in a keepsake edition.
Profits from THE QUILT: Stories From The NAMES Project are going to The NAMES Project and will help raise funds for local support groups providing direct services to people with AIDS. CINDY RUSKIN graduated from Harvard University in 1981 and now lives in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood, where she works as a reporter, illustrator and animator. She reported the story on The NAMES Project quilt in the October 12, 1987 issue of People. MATT HERRON, a photojournalist for thirty years, has also written about AIDS, and has photographed other volunteer movements: the first Greenpeace anti-whaling voyages, an expedition in opposition to the harp seal hunt, and the Civil Rights struggle in Mississippi in the 1960's. He'is the author of The Voyage of Aquarius, an account of his family's sailing voyage to West Africa.
DEBORAH ZEMKE is an award-winning designer and illustrator and is the author of a children's picture book, The Way It Happened.