SFSU AIDs Memorial Quilt
Marvin Feldman was a graduate of San Francisco State. When he died from AIDS, he was memorialized by having his name sewn into a comer of the SFSU AIDS Quilt; in fact, his was the on the quilt. Many others followed. Anthony Ricco, Mark Richard, Micah Sabraw, Michael Rubin, Rex Spinney, Scott Bishop, Marty Hill, Ken Baldwin, Jack Adams–these were some of the early names; many more have joined them.
Patterned after the AIDS quilt developed by the NAMES Project (whose founder, Cleve Jones, was also an SFSUstudent), SFSU's quilt has become a meaningful experience and educational tool for thousands of people across the nation. It also has its own rich story.
Jack Adams, Assistant Director of the Student Union at the time, invited Hollis Matson (Health Education), BillJones (Creative Arts) and Jack Byers (Creative Arts, now retired) to lunch to discuss developing an SFSU AIDS quilt panel. The quilt was designed by Jones and Byers to resemble the Memorial Grove that had been conceptualized by Adams and dedicated the previous year.
After Adams and Matson scrounged up money for materials (including donations from the Academic Senate and the President), a call went out for volunteers to help sew. Ilze Goodfield (Purchasing) answered the ad because she was good at sewing and because it was a project that she felt needed to be done. The sewing began at 4:30 PM in the Creative Arts costume shop and went on well into the night every day for weeks. Goodfield did not miss a single night. Joining her were the original team plus many students, faculty and staff, some who worked regularly, some who dropped in occasionally, and some who came in only once to work on a specific patch for a name. Altogether, 25 people worked over 400 hours to sew the quilt. Ilze and Bill recall the volunteers passing the hours exchanging stories and anecdotes about friends who had died or were dying, "but there wasn't a lot of morbidity, or anything," recalls Ilze, rather a strong feeling of camaraderie. When the quilt was finished, Ilze and others stood on one of the cutting tables in the costume shop so they could hold up the 12' by 12' quilt for everyone to see. "We all just wept," recalls Matson. "It was a very therapeutic experience," says Jones.
The SFSU panel was subsequently donated to the NAMES Project, which sends it out across the country in university displays many times a year. We are one of the only academic institutions to have our own 12x12 foot panel. Because of this, and because of its outstanding artistic and emotional appeal, it is often the centerpiece of the academic displays. Every time the quilt is shown, an estimated 10,000 people view it.
Once a year for a months the quilt comes home to SFSU. We cherish its memories, we are inspired to keep up the fight against HIV disease, and, sadly, we add more names, including some of those who were a part of the original quilters.