I had a powerful experience today, one that I wanted to share with all of you. I had the opportunity to walk across campus with two of our students to look at – or rather to experience – three panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that are on campus this week. I got chills.
Of course, I have seen pictures of the quilt over the years. I understand the tragic loss of life they represent as well as the hope that springs from the fact that communities of people have come together to contribute to a piece of art that helps the memories of their loved ones live on, even as it helps to educate all of us about AIDS and its impact on real people.
But until today I have never actually seen any of the panels in person. Being able to look at the details of each panel – the names, the photographs, the families of each lost life – and to see them towering over me magnified their impact. I guess this should not surprise me. After all, a painting hanging on the wall is always more powerful than seeing its image in a magazine or on a computer screen. But the impact still caught me off guard just a bit.
In addition, I had the privilege of viewing the panels in the company of the student responsible for bringing them here, Joseph Piemonte, president of the Queer Student Union, and the group’s incoming vice president Nathan Espinal. Seeing how much the panels meant to these two student leaders also added a dimension to my experience.
I want to thank both Joe and Nathan for that tour, but even more so for working so hard to bring the panels here to Suffolk. They have given a gift to the whole community. I hope you all have a chance to take advantage of that gift. The three panels are displayed in the lobbies of Sargent Hall, 73 Tremont St., and the Sawyer building. They will be on display until Wednesday, December 6. I know it is a very busy time of the year, but as you hustle from one task or location to the other, I hope you will stop, look, and experience these traveling memorials.
Marisa J. Kelly