Display puts human faces on AIDS toll Quilt panels recall those who died


The panel of the AIDS memorial quilt is backed with a stark gray fabric. A well-worn back pocket from a pair of blue jeans holds a purple bandanna. Nearby is a packet of playing cards, a small square that advertises "The S&M; Market" and a condom packet that reads: "Safer sex is for everyone."

The grim panel stands out among the brightly colored patches of the NAMES Project AIDS quilt on display at Anne Arundel Community College.

Five of the quilt's 23,000, 12-foot by 12-foot panels are at the college through Wednesday, part of a week of AIDS-awareness programs.

Two other county events this week will draw attention to the pain of AIDS victims.

Jeanne White, the mother of Ryan White, a child with hemophilia who contracted AIDS in 1984 from tainted blood and subsequently won a court battle to return to school, will speak at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the college's Pascal Center for Performing Arts. Ryan died in 1990.

The program is free and open to the public, although admission tickets are required because of limited seating.

And for those who would like to learn how to make a panel, the Hospice of the Chesapeake, is sponsoring an open house at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.

"Making a quilt memorial to the person who has died of AIDS is incredibly therapeutic to someone dealing with grief," says hospice social worker Harry Congdon.

Each panel of the quilt celebrates the life of someone who died of AIDS, a memorial in fabric, pictures, poems and mementos assembled by those they left behind.

"In God's hands -- traveling with angels," reads one, next to a picture of a man standing in front of a golden sunrise.

Another panel, in memory of a teacher, reads like a high-school yearbook. Dozens of friends and students signed the panel, leaving messages like "Love ya," "To a great teacher" and "Fond memories".

Panels contain everything from cowboy hats to embroidered flowers to photographs of the dead. They hold poignant messages from mothers, sisters and brothers, friends and lovers.

One message signed "Nicholas," in memory of Richard Spaulding, says: "My heart broke when yours stopped. . . . But I know someday you will mend it."

AACC's Student Association has sponsored both the quilt display and Mrs. White's speech, paying about $3,000 to have the quilt panels displayed at the school, said Christ Storck, Associate Director of Student Activities.

"We want students to realize there's a person behind every statistic they hear. Hopefully it will motivate students to be more careful and to join the fight against the disease," Ms. Storck said.

This week through tomorrow, the quilt is on display from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. in the Pascal Center gallery.

Those interested in making panels can visit the hospice's open house tomorrow, where a video on how to make a quilt will be shown. Representatives from the Baltimore and Washington NAMES Project will answer questions.

Mr. Congdon, who directs an AIDS survivor support group through the hospice, has scheduled three quilting bees between now and Christmas for anyone who wants to attend.

The quilting bees to work on AIDS panels are scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the hospice, 8424 Veterans Highway in Millersville, and Nov. 9 and Dec. 14 at the Harundale Library.

For information on Mrs. White's speech, call 541-2218.

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