Officials will create a digital quilt to commemorate loved ones who have suffered from AIDS.
Russ Tallchief, director of student engagement, inclusion and multicultural programs, organized the quilt in recognition of World AIDS Day and the 30th anniversary of the inaugural AIDS quilt.
World AIDS Day, a national day of recognition for those suffering from AIDS, is Dec. 1. Founded in 1988, it was the first global health day ever created.
The memorial AIDS quilt was created in 1987 by five women in San Francisco who wanted to memorialize the people in their life affected by AIDS. People from major cities across the U.S. sent quilt panels that named their loved ones to San Francisco, where the quilt was compiled.
The completed quilt consisted of 1,920 panels, and 500,000 people saw its display at the National Mall in Washington D.C. Volunteers toured the quilt across the U.S., adding panels and earning $500,000 in donations for AIDS service organizations. The quilt grew to 6,000 panels by the end of the tour, according to aidsquilt.org.
“It was profound to read the names the panels were made in honor of,” Tallchief said. “I wanted to do something to memorialize those of us on a local level who have lost someone to AIDS, but I knew there were limitations to creating physical quilt panels.”
Tallchief encourages students, faculty and staff to send in panels to include in the digital quilt. They can design their own square panel as a digital file or submit a name, and staff from the campus graphics design department will create a panel that places the name over a red AIDS ribbon. Personally-designed panels can include pictures, quotes, art, or anything else that commemorates that person.
Tallchief said he came up with this idea in an effort to continue spreading awareness and support for AIDS, though the epidemic peaked in the ’90s.
“Sadly, it’s losing some momentum in the public eye,” he said. “People are still battling it and losing, so this is a way for us to build support in a beautiful, artistic kind of way.”
Tallchief said the creation of his panel was a cathartic experience.
“When I made mine for my friend, it brought back that loss and pain that I felt when I lost him,” he said. “It’s still there, but it’s part of the catharsis of healing. Sometimes we have to go back and remember those people and the impact they had.”
Alanah Hosford, cell and molecular biology senior, said the quilt will help people remember the impact AIDS had and continues to have on peoples lives.
“I think a lot of people know the AIDS crisis in the ’80s was bad, but I don’t think they know the magnitude of it,” Hosford said. “The LGBT community had to be pretty tight-knit at that time. Just imagine that one day all your friends around you are dying. It must have been horrible, but I think this quilt is a good way to commemorate that.”
Submissions are open and are not limited to the OCU community. Tallchief said he hopes to launch the digital quilt online and send a link to the campus community Dec. 1. Officials want to reach 30 panels by Nov. 30.