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Portion of AIDS quilt comes to SCCC

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, Schenectady County Community College hoisted a piece of the world's largest community art project on the walls of the Lally Mohawk Room in Ellston Hall. The piece was a panel of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

This is such a personal memorial, but then you stand back and it's poignant and quiet, but then it's huge and it screams volumes, said Janece Schaffer, director of communications for The Names Project Foundation, the custodian of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.

The display is part of an event that was organized by the SCCC Pride Alliance. It included a dessert reception, a performance by the Capital Pride Singers and free HIV/AIDS testing.

According to The Names Project Foundation, the entire quilt, which can't be displayed in one place because of its enormity, consists of approximately 45,520 12-foot by 12-foot panels. It is approximately 1,270,350 square feet, which is the equivalent of 272 NCAA basketball courts, with walkways. If each 3-foot by 6-foot panel were laid end to end, it would be 51.3 miles long. The quilt, in its entirety, weighs over 54 tons.

Each 3-foot by 6-foot panel memorializes someone who died of AIDS, and its goal is to help people understand the devastating impact of the disease and to educate the public about HIV/AIDS. As the epidemic continues to claim lives across the country and the world, the quilt continues to grow and reach more communities with its messages of remembrance, awareness and hope.

"It's such a brilliant idea to take something that's so homespun and so American and to say, 'This is how we're going to remember our loved ones and we're going to create these panels one at a time.'[This is] the most democratic, participatory mural," said Schaffer.

Portions of the quilt are constantly on display around the world.

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