Artistic Advocacy

The art contrasts with its austere surroundings. Two gray dolphins arc toward a yellow star. A green cactus stands beneath a Magritte-esque sky. A retro convertible floats across a turquoise background.

Six panels from the global AIDS Memorial Quilt will hang in Rockefeller Chapel until March 15, each scene commemorating a person who died from the disease. Chicago is one of several stops for the traveling memorial, which continues to grow and educate visitors about AIDS, which has killed an estimated 22 million in the past 23 years. In October the quilt boasted 45,000 3x6-foot panels—some 51 miles of fabric, enough to blanket 47 football fields. Nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, it’s the world’s largest community-art project.

The patchwork has raised more than $3,250,000 for direct services for AIDS patients since its 1987 founding in San Francisco. Contributors have used materials such as condoms, photographs, and wedding rings to represent friends and relatives. The Rockefeller staff knew three of the people honored in the displayed panels. For more information, including instructions on adding to the quilt, see


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January 16, 2004