Cleve Jones - NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt

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[00:00:00] This audio comes from the collections of the New Zealand aids Memorial quilt. [00:00:07] What do you think the quilt reception successful magnet? [00:00:13] But I [00:00:14] think almost everybody who, who had been involved with the epidemic was was feeling a deep sense of frustration and our inability to communicate to the rest of the world. What was going on here, particularly here in San Francisco are so many people were affected so early on, and it was terribly frustrating, isolating sort of experience. And I think that the quote was the first thing that came along, that people really saw could communicate what we were experiencing beyond all of the boundaries of sexual orientation or geography. [00:00:47] Your knowledge is a quilt or a tapestry, and have been using this form before. [00:00:52] Yes, there's a long tradition of quilting, being used to express social causes, there was the piece quilt. [00:01:02] I didn't really get my inspiration from that, though, I think my inspiration comes more from the Vietnam War Memorial, and also Judy Chicago's dinner party, which was an art piece where feminist artists contributed [00:01:17] portions of it and I liked the the collaborative nature of it. But quilting has been used for a very long time to express social causes. And really what we're trying to do with the quilt is to recapture the so called traditional American values for this particular situation, and I think that the quilt evokes a very traditional American [00:01:47] cultural response, [00:01:49] have the project? Yeah. [00:01:51] I don't know you have to talk to people that run it now. [00:01:53] Have a very [00:01:55] high percentage of our income still comes from the sale of T shirts and buttons, but videotapes, things like that. We remain a grassroots organization for almost all of our funding. [00:02:07] What's the basis of that you wouldn't be running on such a large project now? [00:02:11] I don't know. [00:02:14] Okay, well, with only the names projects is the active in about 24 or five states, the United States, what's happening in the rest of the states. [00:02:22] The names project is is active everywhere and has had an impact everywhere. [00:02:32] I think we've been particularly effective in in reaching people outside of the urban centers, I've done a lot of traveling to smaller towns and rural communities. And I just, for example, got back from a trip to northern New Hampshire. And later in the summer, I'm going to be coordinating a quote display in northern Michigan, and in communities like that. The quilt is always the the largest undertaking they've ever attempted and in terms of five raising public education, everywhere, the quote goes, it is displayed as the centerpiece for locally coordinated fundraising and educational activities. [00:03:11] Like gay and lesbian visibility, [00:03:14] where there are some who would say that the quilt is too passive. And we have been very clear from the beginning that we, as an organization do not have a specific political agenda. And from the very beginning, we have been made up of heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals all working together. So we are not a gay organization, per se. But I feel that anyone who walks through the quilt [00:03:40] receive such a powerful message about the love and the solidarity of the gay and lesbian community. And I think that in this respect, the quote is really actually quite subversive. Because on on the surface level, we're very respectable, we go into high schools and junior high schools, were supported by [00:04:00] establishment institutions. But when people come to see this aids education message, they also learn a lot about about the gay and lesbian community. And I think one would have to be made of stone not to be moved by the love that is represented in the quote, [00:04:16] The quote, has the many places for together people in terms of the activities involved with in terms of the sign of a meeting of people and patterns, and can you express any experiences you have, we have people have been joined, the community's been strengthened by the foot. [00:04:35] But I think one of the most wonderful things that happens is that, you know, there are many people representing the quote, with more than one panel. Usually what happens is when particularly if they're gay people, a gay man will die of AIDS and his gay family, and his lover and his friends will make a panel first. And then typically, a year later, the mom and dad and the brothers and sisters will come over. And then they will make a panel. And one of the things that we try to do is introduce these people to each other, so that they can share their different experiences of this person and their love for this person. I think that's very important for gay and lesbian people who still today feel so terribly isolated by this disease, it's very hard for those of us who are gay, to keep sight of the fact that there are literally millions of people now all over the world, [00:05:26] who [00:05:26] are also part of this struggle, and they're not gay, and they're not American. But they're part of us. And I think that the quote expresses that beautifully, especially now that we're getting more participation from around the world. [00:05:39] And the core projects that we've seen started and on other continents, [00:05:43] many people away from the City Museum account from meet the people who made the film, but the common threads film, and they came to New Zealand. And the question came to my mind as to how easy as a being people in organization to get hold of people like Dustin? [00:06:02] To the right, in front of [00:06:04] those sorts of projects, I would say that nothing we have done here has been easy ever. And all of the people who work here work very hard at very low pay. [00:06:16] We have received support from remarkable places and remarkable people. But nothing about it has been easy. [00:06:25] Just a technical question. Or if even that is have your range, the ordinary storage and transportation is such a monstrous? [00:06:34] Well, I think the executive director could give you a better handle that but basically, the quilt is modular, the individual panels are sewn eight at a time and to 12 foot by 12 foot squares. So it's very, it's relatively easy for us to do to store it folds up. And it's transported by people who are trained to coordinate the displays. We have grown network of volunteers around the country who know how to display it and take care of it. And really, we've had virtually no problems on that score, which still kind of amazes me there were two individual panels that were lost early on, and then the project and I don't think we've lost any since then. And we've only had one very minor experience with vandalism. So it's really, [00:07:25] that shoot gives you a vast the United States Postal Service experience. [00:07:30] Well, I think we could give a lot more advice, but I'd rather give it to some different government agencies. [00:07:36] What message would you give to countries like your country is affected by aids yet to embark on? [00:07:44] What advice would you give them to? [00:07:49] Well, I think that it really depends on their country, we don't maintain that the quilt is the answer to every culture. The quote works particularly well in countries that have a tradition of quilting. In America, we tend to think of that as a particularly American art form. In fact, it's not. And there are traditions of quilting that go back for centuries in Africa, for example. But the the central notion of using artistic expression, to help people resolve their grief and to connect them to the larger experience, I think is valid for any culture, any setting any political system. Obviously, they've got to find out what works for their own particular situation. We have found, though, with our international department, Jeanette Katrina market, spy glad that in most of the countries that they've gone to, they've ended up adopting something very similar to what we do. [00:08:47] How do you feel as the person with staff is prejudice, this spray paint this friend's name on a piece of cloth? How do you feel now? [00:09:00] I have mixed feelings about the quilt. I'm very proud of it. And it's, I wake up every day still four years later, with a sense of astonishment and wonder that an idea that started in my backyard has now involved so many millions of people and really touched millions of people. And that's very gratifying. And [00:09:26] on the other hand, I would have to say that the quilt has failed in what I had thought it would do. And looking back now, it seems very naive. But I believed on October 11, 1987, [00:09:42] when we unfolded the quilt on the capital mall for the first time in Washington, DC, I believed that the leaders of our country would see it would understand and would be moved and compelled to respond. And clearly that has not happened. So it's very frustrating as we entered the second day decade of the [00:10:02] HIV pandemic, to recognize that the the fundamental issues of the epidemic still have not been addressed by the federal government. So I [00:10:14] am proud of what we've done the quilt works. The quilt helps people it connects them. Has it yet or has anything yet been sufficient to move President Bush and the leaders of Congress know

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