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At long last: Richard Amsel to be honored on the AIDS Memorial Quilt

It was around this time a year ago when I interviewed Rhona Gross at her home in North Carolina. She was a classmate of Richard Amsel’s at the (then named) Philadelphia College of Art. While I intend to post a proper commentary on that meeting in the near future, I mention it here because, of all those I had interviewed, it was Gross who first posed the following question to me:

“Does Richard have a panel on the AIDS quilt?”

Many might be surprised to learn that Amsel, despite the enormous popularity of his work and creative legacy, is not yet represented on the quilt.

I’ve already taken the liberty of changing that.

Consulting with David Byrd and Judy Goldman, two of Amsel’s best friends, I came up with a design that I had printed on fabric. I then had a local quilting company add quilted elements and backing to the panel, as I know as much about quilting as I do harnessing fusion power. (Here’s to you, Cat’s Quilting Corner in Monrovia, CA.)

Here’s a sneak peek at a part of the design:

In researching the history of the quilt, I learned that it was conceived in November of 1985 – which, coincidentally, was when Richard Amsel died. I then visited “Quiltcon” when it came to the Pasadena Convention Center last February. (That's right, there are quilting conventions.) Twelve panels from the AIDS quilt were on display. Looking at them was a deeply moving experience, and I shot some impromptu footage for the documentary.

The dozen panels took up several aisles of a large showroom.

Over 96 thousand panels now make up the quilt.

I’ll be posting more about the Amsel quilt panel in the future. We’re still in the process of arranging a suitable place to hold an unveiling ceremony, after which time I’ll share the complete design to the public.

For now, I want to thank everyone who contributed to the film thus far. We’re now nearing the $10k mark on our Fractured Atlas fiscal sponsorship page, and your donations help make the film and this AIDS panel possible.

For more information on donating to the project, go to

For more information on the AIDS Memorial Quilt, please go to

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