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Sovereign Sun

Primary Source Description #2

Posted OnOctober 10, 2017 01:28

CategoriesSourceDescriptions

The AIDS Quilt panel I have selected for my second Primary Source Description is dedicated to Patrick Gregory. It is the second from the left panel in the bottom part of block 1854. It is is oriented vertically (portrait orientation), and measures 3 feet wide and 6 feet tall (about 91 cm by 183 cm). The panel mainly consists of a central component that is surrounded by a border. The border is about an inch thick (2.5 centimeters) on the left, right, and top side of the component, and about 3.5 inches thick (9 centimeters) on the bottom side. The component itself is split into two sections, the upper one being about 55.5 inches tall (141 centimeters) and the bottom one being about 1 foot tall (30 centimeters). The border and the two sections of the central component are all sewn together using a thin black string. The color pallet of the panel is dominated by hues of blue, purple, and pink.

[1] Picture showing the entire Quilt block 1854.

The upper part of the central component has a heather purple background made of soft cotton. At the very top, a text in English is handwritten with all capital letters in red marker. It is not very easy to read due to the ink fading and the text color not providing great contrast with the background. The handwriting is crude and certain corners of letters show some bleeding of the ink into the cloth. The text tells a story about a young Olympian who fell from the sky and is immortalized through memorial banners made in his honor. The text reads as follows (presented in the line formatting as seen on the panel):

 

“YOUNG OLYMPIAN LEAPING SKYWARD, RAINBOW-COLORED PAINTS FLOWING FROM HIS ARTISTS’

FINGERS, IS STRUCK DOWN IN MID-FLIGHT.   *   RESIDENTS OF LESBOS, AND HERMES’ KIN,

IN PROCESSION WITH BLOOD RELATIVES, LIFT HIGH THE FALLEN ATHLETE, AND NEAR

HIS MORTAL BODY FROM THE FIELD, SINGING ELEGIES AND PANEGYRICS.   *   THEN,

ASSISTED BY THE MUSES, CLOSE FRIENDS OF THEIR LOST HERO, THEY PREPARE

MEMORIAL BANNERS TO IMMORTALIZE HIS NAME AND DEEDS.”

 

Directly bellow the English text, is a text written in Ancient Greek (presumably in the Attic dialect) with the same handwriting. The marker used this time is dark green and the letters are slightly bigger, so this text is much easier to read from a distance. The Greek tells the same story as the English above. The writing contains some grammar errors and occasionally uses the Latin counterpart characters of the Greek alphabet. It is not clear if these errors were made on purpose as a message or inside joke. Bellow is the exact text written on the panel with the same line formatting. It should be noted that all of the breathings (a type of Greek diacritics) featured in the text were placed right above their corresponding letter as opposed to the digital typography which places them to the left side. Additionally, the original text contains rough breathing symbols above a Greek “Β”, which can not have such a symbol applied to it in any version of Greek, and the Latin letter “U”, which is a Latin character and can not receive Greek diacritics. Since there is no digital font able to display these two letters with the rough breathing, they have been indicated by being the only bold letters in the text (they are not bold in the original).

 

“ΟΥΡΑΝΟΣ ΕΙΣ ΜΑΝΘΑΝΟ ΝΕΟΣ ΟΛΙΜΠΒΝ ΠΡΩΦΗSUS ΚΗΝΙSΗS ΙΡΙS

ΠΡΩΦΗSΗS ἉΥΤΟΥ ΤΕΧΝΕΤΙS ΔΑΚΤΥΛΟS ΑΠΟ ΜΕSΟΤΟΗΧΟΝ ΦΥΓΗ ΕΝ

ΕSΤΙ ΕΡΕΗΑΩ ΚΑΤΑΛΥΩ. *

ΚΑΤΟΗΚΕΟ ΛΕSΒΟS, ΚΑΗ SΥΓΓΕΝΗS ἙΡΜΗS, SΥΓΓΕΝΗS SUΝ ΕΚΠΟΡΕΥΟΜΑΗΕΝ,

Ἱ ΤRΕΧΩ ΕΚΠΘΠΤΩ ὙΠSΙΛΟΣ ὙΠSOΩ ΚΑΗ ΘΝΗΤΟ SΩΜΑ ἉΥΤΟΥ

ΧΩΡΑ ΑΠΟ ὙΠSOΩ ΕΛΕΓΗΙΟΝ ΚΑΗ ΠΑΝΕΓΙΡΗΚΩ ΗΔΩ. *

ΑΥΤΟΣ ἩΡΩΣ ΑΠΟΛΛΥΜΙΦΙΛΟS ΑSSΟΝ ΕΚSΤΑSΗS ΜΟΥSΑ

ΠΑΡΗSΤΗΜΙ ΑΦΘΑΡΤΟS ΑΝΑΚΛΗΝΟ ἉΥΤΟΥ ΟΝΟΜΑ ΚΑΗ ΕΡΓΟΝ

ΕΗΣS SΕΜΕΗΟΝ ΕΤΟΗΜΑΖΩ ΜΝΗΜΟSΥΝΟΝ.”

 

[2] Picture of the two texts seen on the top part of the panel.

Bellow the Ancient Greek text is a depiction of the scene in the story. A painted rainbow starts at the middle of the left side of the component, arching upwards, and is about 4 inches thick (10 centimeters). The rainbow is painted on and begins with 3 stripes of color that all have equal width. The colors are (from top to bottom) apple red, lemon yellow, and lapis blue. The rainbow ends just past the halfway point of the component’s width. About a two thirds of the way, the colors of the stripes change as new colors merge in from the bottom side of each stripe. The new stripe colors (from top to bottom) are amber orange, juniper green, and faded lavender purple. It should also be noted that between the text and the rainbow, about 8.5 inches from the border (21.5 centimeters), there is a small brown stain, presumably from coffee.

Bellow the end of a rainbow is a silhouette of a falling man. The figure is a sewn on piece of monochrome navy blue fuzzy cloth. The outline is detailed enough for a the legs, hands, and head of the man to be identified. The man is rotated about 135 degrees from an upright position (assuming that the head facing towards the top of the panel is an upright position). The arms are stretched out on each side and the legs are opened at about a 40 degree angle to give the sense that the depicted person is in free-fall. The fall is probably a depiction of the young Olympian in the story above. At each end of the man’s arms, near his fingers, small batches long pieces of thin loose string are attached. The strings have randomly varying length and vibrant colors. This feature seems to correlate with the flowing paints mentioned in the text.

[3] Close-up picture of the strings attached to the right hand of the falling man.

At the bottom of the upper part of the central component, directly under the falling man, is a silhouette of a group of three people. They are made of the same material as the falling man. They are close together enough for their torsos to be touching, but they are obviously separate entities. Each of these people is shown with their head up (presumably looking at the sky) and with their hands fully extended upwards. Their stance seems to suggest that they are preparing to catch the falling man.

[5] Picture of the depiction in the center of the panel.

The lower part of the central component has a fuchsia background. In the middle it contains the name “PATRICK GREGORY” written in two lines (first name on top, last name on bottom). The letters are about 2 inches tall, but are relatively thin. They have a cyan blue color font that resembles the writing style of Ancient Greek inscribed letters. The letters seem to have been finely painted on with a thin brush. The painting appears flawless and expertly done, but very close inspection reveals areas where the paint is thicker or fading out.

[4] Close-up picture of the name written in Ancient Greek font style.

The border is a background of many fronds with undulate leaves that is layered over with a checker pattern that has alternating colors in its squares. The changes in the color schemes of the squares follow a pattern in each row. There are two row patterns that appear that alternate with each other for each row. The pattern scheme of the coloring in one of the rows is: fern green, light maroon, and eggplant purple. The pattern scheme for the other type of row is: cobalt blue, dark burgundy, and fern green. The squares have sides about an inch long. The leaves in the background vary in size, but always follow a consistent pattern. The cloth is very soft and the leaves can be slightly made out by feeling the texture.

This panel is quite an interesting one due to its creative and mysterious aspects. The story mentioned does not appear to be quoting any other source, therefore it is likely to have been written by the panel creator(s). The symbolism of the plot and the depiction is quite easy to identify. The story describes an artist, referenced as an Olympian , who fell from the sky as he was leaping. This could be symbolize the person the panel is dedicated to, Patrick Gregory. Since the character is described as young in both languages, (“YOUNG” and “ΝΕΟΣ”), Gregory could have been in the prime of his youth, “leaping skywards” in a way, when he was diagnosed with aids. The death of Gregory might be embodied as the act of being “STRUCK DOWN IN MID-FLIGHT” and his artistic passion might be shown through the colors flowing from his fingers, which are also seen on the depiction as mentioned before. The mention of Lesbos is not very clear. Gregory might have been from Lesbos or have ancestry tracing back to the island (especially since the panel uses the Ancient Greek language and many Greek mythological references). It is most likely not related to the mention of Hermes, since he was born in Arcadia and does not have any specific ties to the island. Hermes is probably referring to the falling man, since the person is an Olympian and can fly. The honoring of the man through a memorial probably refers to the making of the panel, which is meant to immortalize Gregory’s life. The muses mentioned in the end is a hint that Gregory was most likely an artist, since they are considered inspirational goddesses for the arts in Ancient Greek mythology.

[6] Map showing the location of Lesbos in the Aegean.

[7] Overall picture of the Patrick Gregory panel.

Sources:

[1] Image of block 1854 provided directly by the NAMES Project Foundation.

[2] Picture of the texts on the panel taken by me (John A. Taylor). Taken on 9/26/2017 at the NAMES Project Foundation HQ at Atlanta.

[3] Picture of the strings on the silhouette taken by me (John A. Taylor). Taken on 9/26/2017 at the NAMES Project Foundation HQ at Atlanta.

[4] Picture of the name on the panel taken by me (John A. Taylor). Taken on 9/26/2017 at the NAMES Project Foundation HQ at Atlanta.

[5] Picture of the depiction on the panel taken by me (John A. Taylor). Taken on 9/26/2017 at the NAMES Project Foundation HQ at Atlanta.

[6] Image of map provided by Business Insider. Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/theres-chaos-on-a-greek-island-where-refugees-make-up-roughly-a-quarter-of-the-population-2015-9

[7] Picture of the entire panel taken by me (John A. Taylor). Taken on 9/26/2017 at the NAMES Project Foundation HQ at Atlanta.

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