On the 29th of October, I visited the NAMES Project Foundation to search for a quilt panel that will act as the foundation for this project. I searched for several minutes before coming across David Toomey’s of block 4378. The colors used and the style of art that it displayed had interested me. It stood out from the other quilts that I observed prior to this one. When I first met with it, I imagined it as more of an piece of art rather than a tribute to someone who was lost to HIV/AIDS. The piece wasn’t exactly visually appealing, but this did not deter me, not in the least. I wanted to know if the design was done, purely by choice, or if it was a display of the creator’s artistic limits, not that it was terrible. I came to notion that it was made by an amateur tailor. It’d be no surprise if the person or people that crafted it learned to sew strictly for the purpose of producing this quilt. When I was with it and working with it, I experienced a sense of endearment. I feel that what I experienced is comparable to the receiving of a small gift. I pictured a happy, bright-eyed, little kid running up to their parent, eager to present their latest project as a gift, whatever it may be: a lego robot, or a drawing of a ‘dinosaur’. More often than not, it’s not going to be anything mind-blowing. Similarly, the quilt was nowhere near spectacular, nowhere near perfect, but the amount of effort that I believe was put into the product was what induced this feeling of endearment.
The notes left by his loved ones alone, from children and adults alike, surprised me with a feeling of grief. All of the messages conveyed affection, and fondness. I began to mourn the death of someone that I know nothing about, no more than the fact that he was a victim of HIV/AIDS, and the quilt itself added little to my knowledge about the person. There are no clear implications that I can make. Just the fact that the quilt made me feel something played a large part in my selection. The quilt contains no picture of the man, or even anything resembling a human, no obvious symbols, nothing to describe the quilt or indication of what it’s supposed to represent. Whatever meanings that may be on the quilt are obscured from me. What is the creator’s relationship to Mr. Toomey? How long did it take to make this quilt? How did they decide on this one design? What does it all say about Mr. Toomey? I still have many more questions left unanswered. Despite this, being there at the NAMES Project Foundation with the quilt has provided me with a surprisingly, unique experience. After being there, I can easily say that looking at a picture of it simply cannot immerse the viewer in the feelings and thoughts that were involved in its making.