Once a human life is over, that life can never be justly illustrated. Gravestones mark the lives of the deceased. Obituaries attempt to chronicle and remember those who have passed away.

Sometimes memorials are put in place to help bring awareness to the late.

University of Colorado junior Blair Iaffaldano believes strongly in respectfully representing human lives, which is why she has spent months preparing for this upcoming week, when the Queer Initiative will display part of one of the largest pieces of artwork ever constructed by man: the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Iaffaldano said, “The AIDS Quilt is made up of patches, each measuring 6 feet by 3 feet. Each patch represents one life lost because of HIV/AIDS. The patches are the size of an average grave.”

According to the AIDS Memorial Quilt Web site, the Quilt was founded in 1987 after gay rights activist Cleve Jones visualized the concept. Jones helped organize the NAMES Project Foundation and created the first panel in memory of a friend.

Shortly thereafter, people in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco began to send panels to the group in San Francisco. With the help of donations, the NAMES Project soon had its own sewing machines and equipment, along with many volunteers.

Today, the Quilt encompasses more than 40,000 panels. Every panel provides a personal memorial of the life of one person affected by HIV/AIDS. This large display of sewn-together patches provides a visual that helps people remember and also brings awareness.

“I had never thought of AIDS in a personal way. Seeing the AIDS Quilt in Atlanta in 2007 inspired me. The Quilt personalizes something that’s so impersonal to a lot of people,” Iaffaldano said.

Three-hundred-square-feet of the AIDS Quilt will be displayed on Norlin Quad from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today through Friday.

For more information about the AIDS Memorial Quilt, visit aidsquilt.org or contact CU’s Queer Initiative at queer.initiative@gmail.com.

Samantha Schwirck is a junior at the University of Colorado.

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