PSD 2 William Billy Ryan


Primary Source Description -2-
The Names Project Research

The names project is an organization which was found in the year 1987, The purpose of the Names project is to preserve the legacies of the people taken away by HIV/AIDS. The names project tributes these individuals through panels which are created by their loved ones, the art and craft instituted through these quilts are a way to recognize what they loved about their friend or family member. The Names Project itself is a movement to acknowledge the awareness of the overlooked disease AIDS, the goal of my project is to understand the panels,what is their significance, I want to discover what inspired the look of the panel. I want to create my own interpretation of what certain images symbolize, and what significance it holds within the panel as a whole, I want to see how the visuals connect with one another.

About the Quilt

Coming into the second quilt I still feel the weight of how little I have to work with, although I get a few more letters in this quilt than i did with Anthony Felix I feel as if I made the mistake of looking at the appeal of the quilt rather than the context. William Ryan’s quilt congregates  several crafted images onto fabric that reminisce about his many qualities, each piece can be recognized as a sort of blueprint to discovering parts of what others had seen in William. From the quilt we’re able to learn of the individuals personality, however It’s always more than likely that I could assert assumptions of what William was like through understanding the little parts of the pieces that intertwine with the quilt.

A Farewell to William Billy Ryan 1964-1992

From the Names Project archive I’ve found a letter in the folder for William, the Images above gave me insight of  William Ryan’s loved ones bidding him closure, they express their love and gratitude towards the warming personality they had seen through him. Williams family talks of the moment he had lost his fight to AIDS, they mention the sun brightening up the room as he passed, this statement made it seem as if he ascended to the sky’s after death. From this letter I had learned that William Ryan was at the age of 28 when Aids had taken him away, I hadn’t looked at the years in between the start of his life to the end of his life till now, It’s quite distressing how  short a life could be. I learned of Williams talent music,  one of his many qualities that coincide with his personality, he played the piano fairly well.  William Ryan’s was rather a fan of the arts i can assume, In the letter it is stated he loved the phantom of the opera. “He always had his hand out stretched with heart in it” This sentence alone gave me an idea o who William Ryan was, I can now make the assertion that Williams was a hospitable guy, his presence may have created a warm atmosphere around his peers.From what is shown in the letter I became informed of Williams profession before his death, William’s was a business man who worked around Malverne,N.Y., and Seattle, from this  I already  assume he was very   intelligent and ambitious.Family and friends had seen Williams as a leading example of a wholehearted person with ambition, from this alone I believe that Williams was a leadership which sets perfectly alongside his profession of business. The letter ends with “we love you,bill” a simple closure.


Red Roses

The Red Roses shown in the panel are remarkably detailed, The flowers uses cool colors to indicate the darken areas, and warm colors to bring out the red making it stand out. I presume that there is a variation of different values utilized into the design of the roses, The artists used light and dark values to show direction within the design giving the allusion of a blooming rose. I can make the assertion that the material used is cotton fabric, and silk. The roses must be painted with acrylic giving the artist the gratification of mixing different hues to accomplish this color scheme. The leaves attached to the rose also complement the red fairly well, after all red and green are complementary colors. Roses I assume represent beauty, warm feelings, or joy, these feelings can correlate to what everyone thought of William Ryan.

Musical Notes

There are several silhouettes of music notes throughout the panel, what I had learned from the letters bidding farewell, William Ryan was rather musical and played several intruments. By one of the musical notes there are numbers listed along side it, this may be an indication of pattern, perhaps a rhythm to follow in a written song. One of the musical notes are shown to have a high intensity of red making it stand out and draw attention towards it away from the cooler colors underlying behind its warm color. 

The Illuminated Star

I feel the star represents what friends and family had seen in William, he stood out, he resembled leadership. The star can be an analogy to guiding those who are lost, William Ryan always had intentions of helping around him from what I learned previously from the letters. The star in the quilt has golden glitter, and silver glitter that groups well along with the golden glitter. From what i see in the image the glitter is layered onto silk material plated around cotton like material making it appear brighter.

The Shining Tear

The tear is also made of silk i presume, also covered with gold and silver glitter.My assumption is that the tear exemplifies what the friends and family of Williams are feeling after his passing, I think of the gold and silver colors as the good things about him poured out from within their emotions. When they had lost Williams, one of their own the shining tear in a way represents what they had lost.


The warm red colored hearts are signed with several family members and friends to pay respect towards Williams, It’s like a subtle kiss goodbye. The Hearts are covered in names written into cotton fabric with sharpie . The hearts come in a variety of sizes, and they’re assorted into different groups pairing the larger ones with smaller hearts. Hearts out to an individual  is a way of showing distant love for that person. In the quilt there is then a pure white heart covering the majority of the heart saying “my hearts with you son” It must be motherly or fatherly love sending  out  their condolences towards Williams,parents are seen for the  ones that care for their children the most.

 The Giving Hand

Alongside the hearts there is a silhouette of a white colored hand with a color hand overlaying the top of the hand. This is a reference towards Williams holding his heart out in his hand when reaching out to others, It personifies his overall personality and how he carried himself among those he cared for.

The fancy penguin

This certain image caught my attention, It reminded me of Williams profession and his gentle personality. Penguins are seen as innocent creatures, while at the same time they could be rough. Williams was gentle, while at the same time pursuing business. He chased what he sought out to pursue, both are rather gentle and determined to clutch onto their desires.

The Phantom of Opera

The phantom of Opera was mentioned previously in the letter, It expressed the everlasting love Williams had for it. The image is rather interesting the mask looks like it also uses acrylic paint like the roses. The lettering for the phantom of opera has strides of blue and white giving the image a cool feeling that may have reflected the way Anthony felt of the film  or play.


While breaking down the descriptions of this quilt I had noticed there was a color theme of red, even in the photo i received of Williams he is covered in red clothing.  The Red colors may be what they assorted along with their feelings and thoughts of Williams, I can make the assertion that red may have been a favorite color of his. I can only guess that this may be true, the real intention of the color may contradict my theory.

Closing the book

I felt more confident while describing even the smallest things of this panel when provided with notes from letters, the letters were like  a blueprint to uncovering the context behind the panel. Overall I had more than enough to work with to come close enough to what I intended on finding from the quilt. The Names Project allowed closure for families through the expression and art implemented through the quilts, although I have no relation whatsoever to both Anthony and Williams I felt that it was a good way of paying tribute to an end of a chapter in their lives.

#William Billy Ryan #PSD 2 #Anthony Felix # The Names Project #GSU english1102