Western North Carolina AIDS Project

Note:  For interviews and additional information contact Pam Siekman, WNCAP World AIDS Day Chairperson, pamsiekman@earthlink.net or 828-335-6680.  Interviews with people who requested Quilt panels can be arranged, and a photo library of last year’s exhibit is available. 
WNCAP Volunteers Prepare to Unfold and Setup Quilts for Upcoming Exhibit in Pack Place
Asheville, NC -- Western NC AIDS Project (WNCAP) volunteers will spend next Monday morning unpacking boxes, lovingly unfolding and smoothing large blocks of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to hang them for the weeklong exhibit that opens at noon that day in the lobby of Pack Place, in downtown Asheville. The exhibit, entitled A Tapestry of Lives, will feature 114 panels stitched together on 18 blocks of the Quilt. 
The AIDS Memorial Quilt, managed by the Names Project in Atlanta, Georgia, is comprised of over 40,000 individually sewn panels that artfully portray the life of someone lost to AIDS. 
The majority of the panels at this year’s exhibit have been requested by local residents in the Asheville area – mothers who lost their sons, siblings, partners, and friends.  All will gather to remember their loved ones in this powerful exhibit.  WNCAP will host a private reception on the evening of November 22nd for the families and friends who requested panels to be included in the display. 
Also included in this year’s exhibit is a panel reflecting the life of actress Amanda Blake, best known for her role as Miss Kitty on the TV series Gunsmoke.  Blake died in 1989 of AIDS-related complications. 
The exhibit will run from November 22 through December 2nd, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday, and closed on Thanksgiving Day.  WNCAP educators are available to host school groups and tours of the Quilt, including age appropriate discussions about HIV and AIDS.  These sessions must be scheduled in advance by contacting the WNCAP office. 
A Tapestry of Lives is the focal point for WNCAP’s commemoration of World AIDS Day, which occurs each year on December 1st.  “On World AIDS Day millions of people gather across the globe in solidarity to recommit to ending the AIDS epidemic,” says Pam Siekman, WNCAP Board member and the local World AIDS Day event chairperson.  According to UNAIDS estimates there currently 33.4 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including 2.1 million children.
“Access to care is truly a human rights issue,” Siekman says.  “World AIDS Day is about raising awareness, fighting prejudice, and improving education.”  The global theme for World AIDS Day is Universal Access and Human Rights.    
On the evening of December 1st, from 7 to 9 pm, WNCAP will host a Candlelight Memorial Vigil in the lower promenade of Pack Place.  This is an interfaith event open to the public.  It will be a time dedicated to remembering those who have died from AIDS, sharing of stories, and music performed by local artists including Classical Guitarist James Barr, and Pianist & Vocalist Robert Thomas. 
There will be an induction ceremony where newly made panels will be added to the Quilt.  These panels, made locally, will be sent to the Names Project after the ceremony and sewn into the AIDS Memorial Quilt. 
The Vigil will begin with the well-known tradition of the “reading of the names” – a prelude to the night when the names of those who have died from AIDS in Western North Carolina in the past year are read aloud.  There are currently an estimated 1,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS in Western North Carolina. 
“The AIDS Memorial Quilt is a poignant yet beautiful way to pay tribute to those who have lost the fight of their lives to AIDS” says Siekman.  WNCAP extends the invitation to people of all ages to come to Pack Place and take in the beauty of the Quilts, the personal stories so artfully portrayed on each panel. 
This is the third year WNCAP has brought sections of the Quilt to Asheville as a vehicle for education, communication and community awareness.
For more details of the event and for more information about WNCAP, please visit www.WNCAP.org or contact the WNCAP office at 828-252-7489. 
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Western North Carolina AIDS Project • 554 Fairview Rd. • Asheville, NC 28803
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