AIDS quilt
AIDS quilt
AIDS quilt
Top photo: AIDS Memorial Quilt logo
Middle photo: Quilt squares
Bottom photo: Quilt on display at Washington Monument

Touching the lives of Texans: AIDS Memorial Quilt comes to San Antonio

By James Benavides
Public Affairs Specialist

(Aug. 11, 2009)--Twelve blocks from the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display Aug. 15-Sept. 20 in the Institute of Texan Cultures East Texas Gallery. Each block contains panels with Texas or San Antonio connections. Admission to the exhibit is complimentary.

Established in 1987, the NAMES Project Foundation is the international organization that is the custodian of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The quilt is a 54-ton, handmade tapestry that stands as a memorial to more than 91,000 people lost to AIDS. The quilt began with a single panel created in San Francisco in 1987. Today, the quilt is composed of more than 47,000 individual three-by-six-foot panels organized into 12-by-12-foot blocks. Each panel commemorates the life of someone who died of AIDS.

The panels come from every state in the nation, every corner of the globe and were sewn by hundreds of thousands of friends, lovers and family members into this epic memorial, the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world.

The Institute of Texan Cultures has partnered with local organizations to enhance visitor experiences on selected Saturdays. Guests will have an opportunity to visit with representatives from the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, Beat AIDS and The University of Texas at San Antonio's SHADES program (Sexual Health, Alcohol and Drug Education for Students) to learn about AIDS awareness and prevention and the disease's impact on Texas and San Antonio. For a program schedule, visit the Institute of Texan Cultures Web site.

"We believe it is very fitting to bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt to San Antonio and the Institute of Texan Cultures because, like every community, we are impacted by AIDS every day," said Executive Director Tim Gette. "AIDS takes lives indiscriminately. It can affect any person in any culture."

The display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is part of the institute's mission as part of The University of Texas at San Antonio: To develop a rich and vibrant culture in the arts and humanities that will expand the community's awareness and appreciation of the human condition, our history and our cultures.

In a war against a disease that has no cure, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has become a potent tool in the effort to educate against the lethal threat of AIDS. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, the AIDS Memorial Quilt helps teach compassion; triumphs over taboo, stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of their families, friends and community.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is on the UTSA HemisFair Park Campus, 851 E. Durango Blvd., near the Alamo and the River Walk. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday; closed Monday. Admission is $8 for adults (ages 12-64); $7 for seniors (ages 65+); $6 for children (ages 3-11); free with membership, UTSA or Alamo Colleges identification.

The Institute of Texan Cultures is an agency of the UTSA Office of the Vice President for Community Services. Its mission is to engage lifelong learners in the understanding and celebration of Texas cultural heritage. The 182,000-square-foot complex features 65,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and displays that tell the stories of Texans.

The institute develops quality, accessible resources for educators and lifelong learners on topics of cultural heritage and strives to develop a rich and vibrant culture in the arts and humanities that will expand the community's awareness and appreciation of Texas through an engaging series of exhibits, programs and special events.

For more information, call (210) 458-2300 or visit the Institute of Texan Cultures ( Web site.

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