FREDERICK, Md. (DC News Now) — A 12 feet by 12 feet AIDS Memorial Quilt panel will debut in downtown Frederick’s DISTRICT Arts gallery. The quilt shows the names and faces of people who died from AIDS.
Frederick residents and visitors will have an opportunity to witness what is called the “largest community art project in the world.”
Tad Janes, artistic director for Maryland Ensemble Theatre, said it took a while for people to recognize AIDS as an epidemic.
“The quilt was a huge way to bring information and bring eyes to the problem and so that in tandem with the theater world where we have a lot of different plays that did the same thing,” Janes said.
The AIDS epidemic is far from over. In 2022, close to 1,000 new HIV/AIDS cases were diagnosed. At the end of 2021, there were an estimated 32,000 Marylanders with the disease.
“It certainly is a very emotional experience to look at this quilt and think about the lives that have been lost,” Bill McLachlan, DISTRICT Arts Gallery co-owner, said.
“The project started 35 years ago and now displays 50,000 panels. The size and the total project weighs about 50 tons, according to McLachlan.
The display of the Quilt coincides with the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s (MET) debut of Angels in America Part 2, the award-winning play about New Yorkers amid the AIDS crisis during the 1980s.
Steven Satta, Angel in America’s dramaturg, said he experienced “the height of the first wave” where no one knew much about the disease.
“We didn’t know how it was contracted, we didn’t know how it was communicated and I did have friends who were sick and who passed,” Satta said.
The quilt will be on display until Oct. 29 and is free for visitors.