The AIDS Quilt, apart of the Names Project Foundation, features over 48,000 panels of quilts to memorialize those lost to AIDS.
The specific panel examined in this description is in block 5873 at the top left of the block. It starts under one horizontal panel, but remains on the left edge of the block. It is a vertical panel that is about 6 feet by 3 feet, according to AIDS Quilt staff, Roddy Williams.
At first glance, this panel seems to have memorials for numerous people, contrary to the general norm of one panel per person. The only uniform aspect in the entire panel is the 2 inches black borders around each section. The panel is divided into 4 unequal sections, 2 squares at the top, a square section in center, and a rectangular horizontal section at the bottom. The overarching theme is not apparent in color or ideas shown on the panel, however, this panel is very much all for one person, Laurenda Rose Doucet.
Starting at the top left square of the panel lies a dark brown acoustic guitar over a suede, deep green base. The suede backing of this section creates slight alterations in color, showing where the suede has last been brushed or touched and places that the suede remains untouched. The guitar is a simple 2D graphic sewn into the base and is slanted across the square towards the right, with the body of the guitar towards the bottom left of the square. The guitar gives the impression of a handmade detail due to its slight uneven neck. At the base of the guitar is the start of its strings. The strings start on top of a black patch that looks similar to an upside down bell-shaped distribution. Here, golden strings, attached by clear circular buttons, are strung up the guitar graphic, with one string having one clear button and going up the neck of the guitar to create chords. Each of these six strings, which are actually a group of 4-6 thin strings grouped together for thickness, runs up the guitar and connects to the tuning pegs like a guitar does in reality, except these are golden strings leading into sequined tuning pegs. These sequins are artificial, clear pyramidal studs with a flat bottom
sewn on the outside of the headstock with white thread. The entire guitar is outlined in black thread, with significantly darker and 10 thicker black threads going horizontally along the neck of the guitar, to separate the frets. On the top left of this section is a quote stitched in round yellow letters that reads:
“We go round and round
and round in the
After some research, these lyrics are by Joni Mitchell in The Circle Game. Assumably, this was Laurenda’s favorite song. If that is the case, this gives us details to the type of music she listened to and the time period she was alive in. In the same yellow stitched thread on the bottom right of this section is a cursive “Love always and forever!” Following underneath is the same round stitching that was in the top left, “Your daughter,” and back to the cursive stitching “Laurenda Rose”.
The Apple Orchard
Moving to the top right of the panel, the second square that’s bordered by a 1 inch thick black panel all around is a twine base with hand drawn trees, all ranging from 4.5 to 8.5 inches in height and about 1 to 2 inches in bases. The lines seem to be made from fabric markers, allowing some of the twine to show through the mostly filled-in brown bases of the drawn trees. The crowns of the trees are left open, but they are created with curvaceous green lines to give the trees a full and healthy appearance. Randomly scattered in the green tree bushes are small red circles, likely representing apples. A few of those same red circles, also drawn in fabric marker, rest on the roots of the brown trees. There are three apple trees in the top left of this section that progress diagonally to the center of the square, two in the top right that seem to be attracted to the center as well, and a row of 8 apple trees at the bottom. Collectively, these trees all create an open space in the twine square. Where there is open space, a message written in round black stitching reads:
We will meet you
in the Apple Orchard
You Love so much
WE Love You!
Dad + Mom II
Underneath these two squares is the longer and main section of the panel. This square is about 3 feet each side, and has the common thick 2 inch black border on the top and bottom of this square. This section contains differing color borders until it gets to the bright colored centerpiece.
The first border is about 4 or 5 inches thick and is made of a blue cotton fabric with navy blue, ink-like flower details consisting of leaves and flowers. Inside of the first border is a magenta cotton border, also about 4 or 5 inches thick, with small dark dots scattered all throughout this pattern. The dots look similar to baby’s breath flowers, which are depicted, and are all about a quarter of an inch each. The border inside that is about 2 inches thick all around and made of a bright red cotton. The border inside of the red is also about 2 inches and is a bright yellow. Both of these borders are completely plain and made of cotton fabric. The centerpiece inside of all of these borders is a reflective auburn vinyl square, containing many more details than the borders. At the bottom right, in a cursive stitching, reads “Love, Mama 1996”.
The main piece looks like a silhouette of a person in the common meditation pose, the lotus position, also depicted, colored in night blues and opaque whites scattered give the impression of clouds and stars located on the head, heart, left arm, and across the lower body. It can be assumed this graphic was sewn to show the importance of meditation in Laurenda’s life. Perhaps she was a buddhist, or just strongly believed in spirituality and enlightenment.
This is sewn in black thread on top of a yellow triangle, the same yellow as the yellow border, following the shape of the meditative silhouette, also sewn in black thread. Underneath the yellow triangle is a red triangle, matching the red border, in an altered position to create a 6 point star. This star is important in Hinduism and Buddhism and is associated with chakras often.
This is also sewn with black thread, onto a dark purple circle underlying the center graphic described. Surrounding the circle, to give this piece the appearance of a flower, are ‘petals’ of another fabric. The fabric contains bright yellow and variant shades of purple flowers, sewn in with black thread.
Finally, the rectangular section that takes up the bottom and remaining part of the panel is very simple and provides the information of the person being memorialized. It is surrounded by the thick 4 inch border on the top and approximately a 2 inch border along the other 3 sides. Within that is a 2.5 inch dark blue cotton fabric with hollow white stars, varying in sizes of 1 to 3 centimeters, scattered along the fabric. Inside the dark blue border is a large piece of the aforementioned auburn vinyl fabric as the base of the information. In large yellow cursive letters is sewn professionally “Laurenda ‘Lori’ Rose Doucet” about 2 inches in size. On the next line, in smaller sizing but the same font is, “January 20, 1958- March 31, 1996” and on the last line in the same yellow font is, “Conway, NH”.
It becomes apparent that every detail in this one panel was intentional and specific: the sizes, colors, graphics, etc. The panel, like the other 48,000, are meant to memorialize those that have passed due to AIDS, but these panels also give identity to the innumerable people that were taken from this disease. Laurenda “Lori” Rose Doucet, pictured, was a
mother and daughter. According to her daughter, who shares the same name as her mother, Lori enjoyed traveling, motorcycle rides, Tai Chi, quilting, playing guitar, and other activities. This panel was meant to give life to the woman who lived her life to the fullest and capture a segment of the multi-dimensional personality that Laurenda Doucet had. Roddy Williams
supplied me with these pictures to give a face to the woman that was loved dearly by her children and parents. At first glance, this panel is just another quilt piece memorializing someone that has passed, but with inspection and more information, you can almost feel the love that was shared for Laurenda and the identity that she had.
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