World AIDS Day is Saturday, Dec. 1; an annual observation that “brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.” This year marks the second of a five-year theme, “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths.”
This is the fourth year that portions of the quilt have come to Asheville, says World AIDS Day chairperson and WNCAP board president Pam Siekman. “Each year we open it up to the community to request certain panels,” she says. As a result, “The exhibit takes on a life of its own.”
The quilt was started in ‘87 by a group in San Francisco who wanted to create a memorial to friends and loved ones they had lost to AIDS. Over the years, over 48,000 panels have been added. By ‘96 it covered the entire National Mall in Washington, D.C.; today it weighs in at 54 tons. The quilt travels the world and has been viewed by more than 14 million people and pays tribute to more than 94,000 lives lost to AIDS.
This year’s local exhibit, “A Tapestry of Lives,” is on display in the Atrium of the Haywood Park Hotel, all week (through Monday, Dec. 3) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Siekman says that in the new location (previous quilt exhibits have been displayed at Pack Place), the panels “look so alive and vibrant.” Panels shown in Asheville this year include one requested by a newcomer to the local community who stitched a panel for her father in the ‘90s. There are also two new panels, made this year in honor of Asheville residents lost to AIDS. “These will be part of an induction ceremony during the candlelight vigil,” says Siekman.
“WNCAP will provide age appropriate prevention education, as well as advocacy activities, alongside the exhibit, and local musicians will perform each day,” says a newsletter. The exhibit is free.
Photo by Castell Photography
On Saturday, Dec. 1, a candlelight memorial vigil will be held (also in the Atrium of the Haywood Park Hotel) from 7-9 p.m. Robert Thomas will perform live music.
• “HIV/AIDS Public Policies and You,” a program held at the University Center, Multipurpose room at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee. Tuesday, Nov. 27, 7 p.m.
• “Code RED: Life’s a Ball,” held at Club Remix, Located below Club Hairspray (38 N. French Broad Ave.) on Friday, Nov. 30. Doors at 8 p.m., $10. Featuring DJ Ace I Rockwell, contest for best dressed in red, on-site HIV testing and more.
• Screening of “How To Survive a Plague” at Carolina Cinemas (1640 Hendersonville Rd.) on Monday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. Free; donation accepted to offset costs.