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National AIDS Memorial Quilt coming to VCSU April 1

Mar 20, 2024

AIDS quilt panel

Two panels from the National AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed in the Center for the Arts Gallery from April 1-18. This powerful display was made possible through collaboration between VCSU Departments of Art and Music and VCSU Diversity & Inclusion along with generous support provided by a grant through the Bridges Arts Council.

Considered the largest community arts project in history, the AIDS Memorial Quilt honors the unique lives and stories of those lost to HIV/AIDS while continuing to promote HIV prevention and community health. Roughly 50,000 panels are dedicated to more than 110,000 individuals who have passed away from HIV/AIDS. When fully assembled, the quilt weighs over 54-tons.

The public is invited to attend the event, Homage: Reflections on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the story of HIV/AIDS, and the parallels to other important issues impacting our nation, on April 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts Performance Hall. VCSU vocalists will perform songs from the *AIDS Memorial Quilt Songbook and a variety of guests will speak.

One of the panels on display has a special tie to VCSU. This panel is in memory of retired professor, Gary Ketterling’s sister and brother-in-law, who both passed away from AIDS in the early 1990s. Ketterling will share his sister’s story about her fight with AIDS and his family’s grief and healing journey.

Angela Mircsov, art department chair and gallery director, will speak on the parallels between the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gordana Cokrlic, Ryan White Program Coordinator for North Dakota Health & Human Services, will be speaking about current HIV/AIDS prevention and ND statistics from the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and 90s and today.

Dr. Kelly LaFramboise, director for diversity and inclusion, will discuss how art and music speak to the emotional and cultural connections we share as a nation and community through memorials, such as the AIDS Quilt.

The gallery hours are limited and will be available as follows during the duration of the display:
Monday (April 1, 8, 15): 1 – 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday (April 2, 9, 16): 9 – 11 a.m., 2 – 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 2: 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
7:30 p.m. Homage: Reflections on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the story of HIV/AIDS, and the parallels to other important issues impacting our nation
Wednesday (April 3, 10, 17): 1 – 5 p.m.
Thursday (April 4, 11, 18): 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Friday (April 5, 12): 1 – 2 p.m.

To schedule an interview regarding this event, please contact Tammy Jo Taft by emailing or calling (701) 845-7227.

*The AIDS Quilt Songbook consists of 18 songs written by a number of contemporary American composers including: John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, Chris DeBlasio, David Krakauer, Annea Lockwood, Donald St. Pierre, Richard Thomas, Donald Wheelock and Fred Herschel, which premiered in July 1992 at Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall. It was a project conceived and organized by William Parker, and fellow baritones Kurt Ollmann, William Sharp and Sanford Sylvan.

William Parker was a student of two great classical singers: Rosa Ponselle and Pierre Bernac.  In 1979, Parker won first prize at Kennedy Center-Rockefeller Foundation International Competition for Excellence in the Performance of American Music. Parker was on the rise as he premiered many American works including Ned Rorem’s Santa Fe Songs and Ernest Bacon’s Last Invocation. In 1986, Parker was diagnosed with AIDS. He continued concertizing around the US along with taking American music to other countries, including England, Portugal, France, Holland, Germany, Iceland, and the former Soviet Union. Parker also continued to perform the Songbook around the US, including his performance of the Songbook at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC on World AIDS Day (December 1, 1992).  His final performance was on January 1, 1993, at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.  He returned to his home in Greenwich Village in NYC and died from complications on March 29, 1993.

On World AIDS Day in 2012, the organization Sing for the Cure presented the 20th Anniversary performance of the Songbook with many well-known professional singers, including the surviving baritones from the original performance: Kurt Ollmann, William Sharp and Sanford Sylvan.