Quilt on the Quad features special event, new display this year

By Dena J. Smith | Emory Report | Nov. 28, 2012

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Each year, Emory Hillel brings The AIDS Memorial Quilt to campus.  Emory Photo/Video.

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Just as World AIDS Day has brought people together from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, Hillel at Emory has localized that mission by hosting the annual Quilt on the Quad with a formal event Friday, Nov. 30.

Karly Taylor

Karly Taylor stands beneath her uncle's quilt (top left).

The event, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Winship Ballroom of the Dobbs University Center (DUC), will feature musical performances, guest speakers and personal stories from survivors and families of those who have passed away from the disease.

In its eighth year, Quilt on the Quad commemorates World AIDS Day on campus and focuses on solidarity and awareness, and encourages progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care.

This year's display will differ slightly from those in the past where the quilts were centrally displayed on the Quad. This year the 675 quilt panels will be placed throughout the campus, mostly indoors.

"We want this year's Quilt on the Quad to be an educational and enlightening experience for the Emory community," says student Jessica Jaksich, co-chair of the initiative. "We want to give our audience the opportunity to view the quilt panels as they have in the past, but we also want to help them understand and appreciate the story behind the quilts.  

"Further, some of the most up-to-date AIDS research has occurred on our very own campus and we want to educate our community on these advancements in addition to honoring those who have passed away from the disease."

The Emory Center for AIDS Research is an official National Institutes of Health Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) site. Many of the scientists within the Emory Vaccine Center are focused on finding an effective vaccine against HIV, and Emory scientists are inventors of several of the most commonly used HIV/AIDS drugs.  

Karly Taylor, who works for Emory's Office of Research Administration, is a guest speaker at the Friday event. As a senior conflict of interest specialist in the Office of Research Administration, Taylor has the opportunity to see the various research projects that investigators and research staff put forward for the treatment and cure of HIV/AIDS. But Taylor plans to focus her talk less on her work and on a more personal story. Her family was recently reunited after two decades with a quilt her family made in honor of her uncle who died from AIDS and donated to the NAMES Project, the nonprofit caretaker of The AIDS Memorial Quilt.  

"It had been quite a while - since the '90s when my family last saw or knew the whereabouts of my uncle's quilt," says Taylor. "I was volunteering with the NAMES Project and I started a conversation with the coordinator about my uncle's quilt and how my family did not know where it was. He was able to quickly look into it, and he found out it was here in Atlanta at the headquarters. Now it will be displayed at Quilt on the Quad in the Winship Ballroom at the DUC."  

Taylor continued: "Volunteering is such a great way to give, but I ended up getting more than I gave. It's amazing how fate works its way out."