By: Lawrence Howe
The NAMES Project, the AIDS Memorial quilt, has, without a doubt broken all records for the largest quilt, and sadly, continues to break its own record. This unique artifact has grown far beyond the conventional quilt as bedcover; in 1991 it was composed of over 14,000 panels, each commemorating someone who has died of AIDS, and would have filled a space equal to nine football fields.
Not unlike the Quilt itself, my observations of its textual aspects are a kind of patchwork in which I speculate on various meanings that emerge from the conception and production of The NAMES Project and the responses to it. With the seams of my observations in full view, I hope to show how The NAMES Project is at once a quilt and a text of the times and the culture that produced it.