Quilting bee part of national AIDS awareness effort

Tracy Ellingson

What looked like nothing more than mounds of fabric sitting on tables in Coffman Memorial Union on Tuesday will soon become a part of an American tapestry.
University students, who are participating in a three-day quilting bee, are using the fabric to stitch AIDS quilts, which will be added this fall to the national NAMES Project Aids Memorial Quilt in San Francisco.
“(This) is an important way to show that the U of M’s community cares about HIV and AIDS awareness and to show that we’re at the forefront of the battle,” said Gina Gough, president and founder of Students Teaching About AIDS and Reaching Students.
The national AIDS quilt started in 1987 in San Francisco. Since then, the NAMES Project has sent sections of the quilt all over the nation for display.
STAARS, which is sponsoring the event, hopes to display a section of the AIDS quilt along with quilt panels University students are putting together this fall in Coffman Union, and possibly on Northrop Mall.
The national quilt, which is comprised of a number of smaller individual quilts, represents a cemetery full of those who have died from AIDS.
Each individual quilt is made up of 12 grave-sized panels, each measuring 3 feet by 6 feet. Gough said she hopes to have three University-sewn quilts ready to send to San Francisco this fall.
STAARS member Kristen Injeski on Tuesday sat on the floor in Coffman Union working on a panel from Territorial Hall, where she lives. Injeski sewed the lettering of a phrase she had selected from a book of aphorisms that read: “Always keep your face toward the sunshine and your shadow will fall behind you.”
“I just thought it was very optimistic,” said Injeski, “and that’s what the NAMES Project seemed to be. It’s to keep hope.”
Hope was a theme used by three members from the Disabled Student Cultural Center who added the word, spelled out in sign language, to their light-blue panel.
Cultural center member Susanna Beying said the center contributed to the quilt to show its support as an organization.
“Disability crosses all cultures,” Beying said. “There’s been a lot of talk (within the cultural center) about how to include people with chronic illnesses.”
The quilting bee is being held in conjunction with Aveda-a-thon, an event where students can receive discounted facials and massages. Both events are open to all University organizations and students. Proceeds from the events, which end on Thursday, will be used to promote AIDS awareness programs on campus.