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quilts and human rights


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Photo of quilts as memorial text panel Photo of Survivors quilt

Aniko Feher
Southfield, Michigan
Cotton; machine piecing, raw edge appliqué, machine quilting.
41" x 47"
Collection of Michigan State University Museum, 2010.113.1

This is a memorial quilt dedicated to my mother, who was a Holocaust survivor. She was liberated in Bergen-Belsen. After liberation Bergen-Belsen became a DP camp. It took her a while to recuperated from starvation. Once she was physically stronger she wanted to return home and find her family. Survivors were promised transportation home but after many months no transportation was provided. My mother with 4 other survivors from Budapest decided to go home on their own. Most of their journey was on foot. Somewhere on that journey a tiny group photo was Taken of the 5 survivors. In the group photo my mother is the second from the left, the large portrait is also of her when she was old and fragile, before she passed away.

I don’t recall the names of the other people. My mother and them parted ways when they got into Budapest. She said the two girls on the right were sisters and the shorter one was only 15 years old. The woman on the left was a married woman who had a little girl left behind in the Ghetto. All through that long and hard journey she was carrying a doll for the child as a gift. On the last leg of the journey they were traveling on a crowded train. While they slept someone stole the doll. This woman was inconsolable, how can she come home without a gift for her daughter? She didn’t even know if her child was still alive.

My mother didn’t want to talk about her war time experiences, but stories bubbled to the surface in the most unexpected ways. She never allowed me to wear yellow and never explained why. During the war, Jews were forced to wear a yellow star on their clothing to mark them. She would never allow my ears to be pierced. When I was older, she told me: “I saw too many times woman’s earrings getting torn out of their ears.” - Aniko Feher


Photo of AIDS panel

NAMES Panel for Bob I.
Lynne Swanson and Chris Carmichael
East Lansing, Michigan
November 1995
Cotton; applique
44 3/4" x 79 1/2"
Collection of Michigan State University Museum

The NAME Project AIDS Memorials quilt began in June of 1987, when a small group of strangers gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared
history would neglect. Their goal was to create a memorial for those who had died of AIDS and to thereby help people understand the devastating impact of the disease. Today the Quilt is a powerful visual reminder of the AIDS pandemic.

More than 46,000 individual 3-by-6-foot memorial panels- commemorating the lives of over 91,000 people who have died of AIDS-have been sewn together by friends, lovers, and family members. Laid end to end, the panels would stretch for 52.25 miles. The NAMES Project Quilt is too large to be exhibited in one spot anymore. Portions of it tour the country and are place on view in community displays. To date, the Quilt has been visited by over 15,000,000 people.

This panel was made as a NAMES Project Quilting Bee hosted by MSU Museum and the Lansing Area AIDS Network. Members of the community came together to create panels for loved ones lost to AIDS. In some cases, panels were made to honor people who had no family, or who had been estranged from their family due to their circumstances. This was the case with Bob I. Two 6' x 3' panels were made for him. One was sent to the NAMES Project to become part of the massive AIDS Memorial Quilt. The other panel was accessioned into the Michigan State University Museum Great Lakes Quilt Center collections in order to document and preserve an example of quilting used in public memorials and social action. For more information on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial quilt, go to http://www.aidsquilt.org.


PHoto Why MSUM text panel Photo of credits text panel
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