Western North Carolina AIDS Project
Note: For interviews about WNCAP and WNCAP Services contact Executive Director, Jeff Bachar at 828-252-7489, for interviews from family members who have requested Quilt panels as part of this year’s exhibit or for photos of previous Quilt exhibits contact Jesse Oates Vest, Special Events Coordinator at 828-553-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP) Prepares for World AIDS Day Commemoration
Asheville, NC (November 11, 2015) – On Sunday, November 22nd a team of WNCAP volunteers will gather at the Renaissance Hotel, downtown Asheville to gently unbox, unfold, and lovingly put together a special exhibit of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The exhibit will feature 160 panels stitched together on 20 blocks of the Quilt, opening Monday, November 23, 10:00am and running through December 1, World AIDS Day. This is the largest exhibit of the AIDS Memorial Quilt in the state of North Carolina and will include several panels made locally.
Hours of the exhibit are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. November 23 – December 1. Volunteers will be on site throughout the week to answer questions about the Quilts, appointments can be made for age appropriate HIV education and personalized tours by contacting Jesse at the WNCAP office, 828-252-7489. HIV and AIDS educational materials will be available as well as information from other community partners such as LGBT Elder Advocates, Loving Food Resources, (RED), Haywood Street Congregation, and others. There will be a special Opening Night Reception on Monday November 23rd 6 – 8pm, with a commemoration candle lighting ceremony, music by local a capella group Pastyme, and local speakers.
On World AIDS Day, Monday, December 1st at 6:30 pm WNCAP will host a special screening of deepsouth. “deepsouth is a documentary about the neglected crisis of HIV/AIDS in rural American South. Beneath layers of history, poverty, and now soaring HIV infections, three Americans redefine traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive.” (From the deepsouth film website). WNCAP Advocacy Coordinator, Peggy Weil, says this about the film. "We often talk about the statistics but there is no other better way to communicate, than a personal story. The people in this film are our people. People full of self-doubt brought on by stigma and tremendous courage to face each day. deepsouth is a beautiful film that illustrates, why we are where we are now. I hope that people will take the time to come out to see the film and stay for the discussion. As Josh from the film says, "Whatever went wrong down the line, we have to go back and fix it." After the film screening a panel of local advocates and experts will be available for a panel discussion moderated by WNCAP staff.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt, managed by the NAMES Project Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia, is now comprised of more than 48,000 individual 3 x 6 foot panels, each one commemorating the life of someone who has died of AIDS. These panels come from every state in the nation, every corner of the globe and they have been sewn by hundreds of thousands of friends, family members, partners, and lovers into this epic memorial, the largest piece of ongoing community art in the world.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a potent tool to educate the lethal threat of AIDS. By revealing the humanity behind the statistics, The AIDS Memorial Quilt helps teach compassion, triumphs over stigma and phobia; and inspires individuals to take direct responsibility for their own well-being and that of their family, friends and community.
Other featured panels include a quilt remembering Ryan White (1971-1990), the teenager from Kokomo, Indiana who contracted HIV at age 13 through blood-based products for hemophilia. Ryan became a beacon for AIDS activism in the late 80’s and began to show the public that AIDS was not a “gay disease”. In 1990, the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act was passed. This legislation has provided treatment, care, and access to resources for millions of Americans including North Carolinians living with HIV and AIDS. Also included in in this year’s exhibit is a panel for Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), a British singer-songwriter, and producer, best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the rock band Queen. There will also be a panel remembering Marty Prairie, (1958-2001), Oglala Lakota Sioux, and local AIDS activist. A long-term survivor of AIDS, Prairie died in 2001, but fought tirelessly against stigma and discrimination and for a better life for people with HIV/AIDS, and especially LGBT people of color, drug users, and children in poverty, and Native Americans everywhere. He was a dedicated educator for the prevention of HIV/AIDS, STD’s, TB and Alcohol/Substance Abuse using his own story to help others and along with Michael Harney co-founded the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville, (NEPA).
“Each year when we bring the Quilts to Asheville, it is our desire to create an exhibit to foster healing for the families and friends who have lost loved ones to AIDS and at the same time bring the community together with compassion and support to recommit to the fight against AIDS right here in Western North Carolina and around the globe. World AIDS Day is all about solidarity” states Pam Siekman, WNCAP Board Member.
WNCAP’s 2015 Quilt Exhibit and World AIDS Day events are sponsored by O.Henry’s, the Renaissance Hotel of Asheville, Greiner, Ezell & Associates, Design 1, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Please join WNCAP in the special events planned for this important week of awareness and also thank the generous sponsors who made this possible.
All events are free of charge and open to the public, visit www.wncap.org for additional details or contact the WNCAP office at 828-252-7489.