The University of Wisconsin's Sex Out Loud group unveiled a block of the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Red Gym Friday, as part of a series of events to promote World AIDS Day Saturday.
The quilt is accompanied by a series of photos taken by Edgewood College junior Laura Quackenboss, featuring HIV-positive children in Tanzania.
The 12-by-12 foot quilt block is on loan from the international NAMES Project Foundation, an organization dedicated to keeping alive each AIDS victim's name, rather than considering them part of a statistic. Each of the 3-by-6 foot panels making up the larger block represents an individual lost to AIDS. The panels are created by family and friends and then sent into the NAMES Project Foundation.
"I think it is a really powerful idea," UW junior Ariel Trangle said. "It honors AIDS victims and can be a way for family and friends to heal."
According to a Sex out Loud presentation, the quilt project has been growing since its start in 1987. The full quilt is made up of over 6,000 blocks, has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and is the largest piece of community art in the world. It has been displayed many times in various stages of completion on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Sex Out Loud has the quilt on the condition that the organization will spread awareness about preventing HIV, Sex Out Loud Event Coordinator Paula Tran said.
"Sex Out Loud participates in World AIDS Week every year," Tran said. "We talk about physiological things about safer sex, and AIDS is an important concern to discuss."
The quilt block includes a panel dedicated to a man from Green Bay.
"It is really important to be aware of how close AIDS is," she said. "People think AIDS, they think of Africa and [think it is] far away — but it happens here, too."
Across the gallery from the quilt block is a series of photos — the other half of the exhibit. The photos were taken by Quackenboss in June 2006 when she worked at an orphanage in Tanzania.
Quackenboss's display is meant to personalize the virus.
"It was really easy for me to classify AIDS as a virus without a face," Quackenboss said. "I wanted people to see the children before the virus, see that they are still very childlike and innocent. The pictures help give the virus a face."
Quackenboss was inspired to go to Tanzania by a similar exhibit at Memorial Union, she said.
"I wanted to go and see what I could do to help on an individual level," she said. "This has been a really good opportunity to share my experience, and I hope I can inspire people the same way that exhibit inspired me."
The ceremony included presentations by Sex Out Loud, the Leadership and Social Justice Committee and Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment.
The quilt will be on exhibit on the second floor of the Red Gym through Dec. 14.