How Do You Mourn a Pandemic? See How Artists Around the World Are Building Monuments to Those Who Died of COVID-19


Today marks one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, but many artists and activists have already been paying tribute to the 2.62 million people who have died worldwide from COVID-19 so far.

Here is a look at 17 tributes from around the world, including ongoing displays, past projects, and planned memorials.

 

CURRENT

Kristina Libby, Floral Hearts Project

Kristina Libby, <em>The Floral Heart Project</em> on the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Erica Reade Images @ericareadeimages/Floral Heart Project @lightvslight.

Kristina Libby, The Floral Heart Project on the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo by Erica Reade Images @ericareadeimages/Floral Heart Project @lightvslight.

New Yorker Kristina Libby began placing heart-shaped flower wreaths in prominent sites across the city last April, when the first wave of the pandemic was at its terrifying height.

“I laid a heart because I was grieving and I wanted to do something to recognize our losses,” the artist said in a statement. “Community matters now more than ever, and one way we can grow community is by grieving together.”

The project has since blossomed into something greater. On March 1, volunteers created Floral Hearts in 100 sites across the US with flowers donated by 1-800-Flowers, with additional installations to follow.

 

Shane Reilly, Memorial for Those We’ve Lost
Austin, Texas

Shane Reilly, <em>Memorial for Those We've Lost</em>, installed on the artist's lawn in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Shane Reilly, Memorial for Those We’ve Lost, installed on the artist’s lawn in Austin, Texas. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In May, Austin sculptor Shane Reilly began planting flags on his lawn for each Texan who had died from COVID-19. The display quickly proliferated.

“This isn’t just a flag, this is someone’s mom or dad. That’s somebody’s friend that died,” the artist told local news outlet Kxan in January. At the time, he was up to 32,000 flags, and running out of space.

Texas officials have denied permit requests to erect the piece at the state capitol, according to Reilly’s GoFund Me, but he is looking for a new home for the growing installation.

 

Carlo Omini, Resilienza, Comunità, Ripartenza
Codogna, Italy

A memorial for the victims of coronavirus in Codogno, Italy. Photo by Stefano S. Guidi/Getty Images.

A memorial for the victims of coronavirus in Codogno, Italy. Photo by Stefano S. Guidi/Getty Images.

On February 21, 2021, the tiny town of Codogna, Italy, unveiled a monument commemorating the nation’s first documented locally transmitted coronavirus case, diagnosed one year earlier.

Designed by architect Carlo Omini, the sculpture features three steel columns and is set amid a small garden with a quince tree. In a message of hope amid a still-raging pandemic, the work’s titular inscription means “resilience, community, restart.”

 

LuminArtz and Pamela Hersch, COVID-19 Memorial
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, Massachusetts

A temporary video artwork was installed on the facade of Massachusetts’s Cape Ann Museum this week, in memory of the over 2,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in surrounding Essex County.

“We get used to the numbers we hear each day, but each of these numbers represents such profound loss for so many,” artist Pamela Hersch told the Boston Globe.

The nightly projection, a two-minute looping animation depicting souls floating into the sky, is accompanied by a memorial quilt embroidered by Dianne Taormina and assembled by Ingrid Schillebeeckx-Rice, as well as 55 granite cairns built by the Cape Ann Tree Service for each of the cape’s 55 casualties.

 

Marcos Lutyens, Rose River Memorial

Marcos Lutyens, <em>Rose River Memorial</em> (rendering). Courtesy of the artist.

Marcos Lutyens, Rose River Memorial (rendering). Courtesy of the artist.

Los Angeles’s Marcos Lutyens is organizing a national handcrafted COVID-19 memorial of red felt roses, inspired by the traditional use of red roses in military funerals. For those who want to contribute, the artist has provided a template and even has kits for sale to make flowers and send them to him to add to the display.

The project was installed on the exterior of the Orange County Museum of Art earlier this month, but the artist is looking to stage a large-scale version of the piece across a lawn of about 5.5 acres, with one rose for every square inch.

“We all need to come together and this gives a unique opportunity for the community to do so in order to honor the local COVID victims and their families,” Luytens told Patch. “Through grieving, we can all move forwards towards a brighter future.”

 

PLANNED

Americas COVID-19 Memorial
Biennial of the Americas

America's COVID-19 Memorial. Image courtesy of the Biennial of the Americas.

America’s COVID-19 Memorial. Image courtesy of the Biennial of the Americas.

The Biennial of the Americas is launching an open call for COVID-19 memorial designs later this month. Curators Derrick Velasquez and Maria Paz Gaviria will select proposals by 30 artists from across the Americas for consideration. A virtual exhibit to be held in June will feature the top 20 designs.

 

London COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Garden
Olympic Park, London

A view of Olympic Park in London. Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.

A view of Olympic Park in London. Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled plans for a “living memorial” in the form of a garden planted by the National Trust with funding from Bloomberg. At its center will be a circle of 33 blossoming trees, representing the city and its 32 boroughs, and recalling the pandemic’s springtime beginnings.

The garden “will be a permanent reminder of the lives that have been lost, a tribute to every single key worker, and a symbol of how Londoners have stood together to help one another,” Khan told the Evening Standard.

 

Gómez Platero, World Memorial to the Pandemic
Montevideo, Uruguay

Gómez Platero, World Memorial to the Pandemic, Montevideo, Uruguay (rendering). Courtesy of Gómez Platero.

Gómez Platero, World Memorial to the Pandemic, Montevideo, Uruguay (rendering). Courtesy of Gómez Platero.

Gómez Platero announced plans to built the world’s first COVID memorial in August. The architecture firm says it is in talks with the Uruguayan government to build the monument on an unused urban waterfront site in Montevideo.

“By creating a memorial capable of activating senses and memories,” lead architect Martín Gómez Platero said in a statement, “we can remind our visitors—as the pandemic has—that we as human beings are subordinate to nature and not the other way around.”

Madeleine Fugate, COVID Memorial Quilt
California Science Center, Los Angeles

Madeleine Fugate with the COVID Memorial Quilt. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Madeleine Fugate with the COVID Memorial Quilt. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which her mother helped work on in the 1980s, 13-year-old Madeleine Fugate started collecting fabric swatches honoring the individual victims of the coronavirus as a final project for her history class. Her hope is to have the loved ones of each of the deceased contribute a square for the quilt, which is set to go on view for a year at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

“If we forget about all these people that have died, it’s like we’re losing a little bit of humanity,” Fugate told National Geographic. “You really understand, when you see the squares and get to hold them in your hands, how much these people meant to the people sending the squares.”

 

Graham Ibbeson, Covid Memorial and tribute to key workers
Barnsley, UK

Graham Ibbeson's design for a planned COVID-19 memorial in Barnsley, UK. Image by Graham Ibbeson, courtesy of Barnsley Council.

Graham Ibbeson’s design for a planned COVID-19 memorial in Barnsley, UK. Image by Graham Ibbeson, courtesy of Barnsley Council.

The UK town of Barnsley has tapped sculptor Graham Ibbeson to honor the efforts of essential workers during the pandemic with a new permanent monument that represents the way in which the entire community has been affected by the virus.

 

PAST

Suzanne Brennan FirstenbergIN AMERICA How Could This Happen…
DC Armory, Washington, DC

It took two months for sculptor Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg to get government approval to plant a sea of white flags outside the DC Armory in October, one for each US life lost to COVID-19. At the time, the death count was 219,000, with the artist adding new flags daily to match the mounting toll. In the months since the piece concluded, that number has more than doubled.

“I know how valuable each life is, because I’ve had the opportunity—the honor—to be with people at a very difficult time in their lives, as they’re saying goodbye,” the artist, who volunteered as a hospice nurse for 25 years, told NPR.

The temporary artwork has since been turned into a digital installation by Maggie Peterson.

 

MTA Arts & Design, Travels Far
107 MTA Subway Stations in New York City

"MTA

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York honored its own with a video tribute featuring photographs of many of the over 100 employees who had died of coronavirus. It ran at stations throughout the subway system three times a day through February 7, and can still be viewed online.

The memorial was conceived by MTA Arts & Design director Sandra Bloodworth, who created the artwork with Cheryl Hageman and Victoria Statsenko, and co-led by Andrew Wilcox. Gene Ribeiro and Gary Jenkins provided graphic support, with audio by composer Christopher Thompson, and a newly commissioned poem, “Travels Far,” by US poet laureate Tracy K. Smith.

 

Memorial Drive
Belle Isle, Detroit

Images of COVID-19 victims from Detroit are displayed in a drive-by memorial at Belle Isle State Park on September 2, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images.

Images of COVID-19 victims from Detroit are displayed in a drive-by memorial at Belle Isle State Park on September 2, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images.

The city of Detroit honored its dead with a memorial of photographs of over 900 locals who died of the virus that stretched for miles along Belle Isle on September 2. The display was organized by Detroit Arts and Culture director Rochelle Riley.

“It’s easy to get numb in this environment, but we must not just look at this as numbers,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said at the event, according to the Detroit Free Press. “These are people. Men and women, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, brothers and sisters, who had dreams and plans and a story. They weren’t finished yet.”

 

Marked by COVID
Rose Garden at the Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix

On on November 1, the Day of the Dead, the nonprofit Marked by COVID set up 500 chairs, each with a lit tea candle, to represent the nearly 6,000 Arizonans pandemic victims—particularly from hard-hit communities of color.

“The idea for this celebration tonight, this memorial, is to create a space for us to mourn out loud,” organizer Kristin Urquiza, whose father was among the dead, told AZ Central.

 

Andrea Arroyo, CoVIDA 
Morris Jumel Mansion, New York

"Andrea

Welcoming visitors to the grounds of Manhattan’s oldest single family home, the Morris Jumel Mansion, this winter, was a delicate yet evocative cut paper and ribbon installation that served as New York’s first memorial to the pandemic that had ravaged the city.

Its site, at a property that has survived everything from the American Revolution to the September 11 attacks, served as a reminder of the resiliency of New Yorkers, while Andrea Arroyo’s floral garlands, commonly used in Day of the Dead altars, spoke to the Latin American community of surrounding Washington Heights, the neighborhood in Manhattan that has seen the most COVID deaths.

CoVIDA acknowledges that life continues during the pandemic, and while we reflect on the devastating loss of life, we look to the future with hope, and celebrate the life that is here and now,” said the artist in a statement.

 

Georgia Coalition 2 Save Lives, Loved Ones, Not Numbers
National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta

"Georgia

The Georgia Coalition 2 Save Lives put up a wall of 5,000 broken paper hearts outside Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights in August. The state’s dead numbered 5,300 at that time.

“We know that these deaths were preventable and more deaths can be prevented if the governor issues an ordinance statewide for mandatory masks,” Jana Johnson-Davis, an educator and local school board  member who helped organize the display, told MSN.

 

Sonia Gutiérrez, Luminarias on S. Washington Ave.
Fayetteville, Arkansas

"One

Artist Sonia Gutiérrez created an eight-block trail of 212 glowing paper lanterns in her neighborhood in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Christmas Eve. She read a prayer as she installed each luminaria, which represented the 212 residents of the city’s Washington County who had died to that point.

The temporary installation was designed to be a “healing and restful space,” the artist told PBS.

Follow Midnight Publishing Group News on Facebook:

n

A temporary video artwork was installed on the facade of Massachusetts’s Cape Ann Museum this week, in memory of the over 2,000 people who have died of COVID-19 in surrounding Essex County.

n

u201cWe get used to the numbers we hear each day, but each of these numbers represents such profound loss for so many,u201d artist Pamela Hersch told the Boston Globe.

n

The nightly projection, a two-minute looping animation depicting souls floating into the sky, is accompanied by a memorial quiltu00a0embroidered by Dianne Taormina and assembled by Ingrid Schillebeeckx-Rice, as well as 55 granite cairns built by theu00a0Cape Ann Tree Serviceu00a0for each of the cape’s 55 casualties.

n

 

n

Marcos Lutyens, Rose River Memorial

n

Marcos Lutyens, <em>Rose River Memorial</em> (rendering). Courtesy of the artist.

Marcos Lutyens, Rose River Memorial (rendering). Courtesy of the artist.

n

Los Angeles’s Marcos Lutyens is organizing a national handcrafted COVID-19 memorial of red felt roses, inspired by the traditional use of red roses in military funerals. For those who want to contribute, the artist has provided a template and even has kits for sale to make flowers and send them to him to add to the display.

n

The project was installed on the exterior of the Orange County Museum of Artu00a0earlier this month, but the artist is looking to stage a large-scale version of the piece across a lawn of about 5.5 acres, with one rose for every square inch.

n

“We all need to come together and this gives a unique opportunity for the community to do so in order to honor the local COVID victims and their families,” Luytens told Patch. “Through grieving, we can all move forwards towards a brighter future.”

n

 

n

PLANNED

n

Americasu00a0COVID-19u00a0Memorial
n
Biennial of the Americas

n

America's COVID-19 Memorial. Image courtesy of the Biennial of the Americas.

America’s COVID-19 Memorial. Image courtesy of the Biennial of the Americas.

n

The Biennial of the Americas is launching an open call for COVID-19 memorial designs later this month.u00a0Curators Derrick Velasquez and Maria Paz Gaviria will select proposals by 30 artists from across the Americas for consideration. A virtual exhibit to be held in June will feature the top 20 designs.

n

 

n

London COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Garden
n
Olympic Park, London

n

A view of Olympic Park in London. Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.

A view of Olympic Park in London. Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images.

n

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has unveiled plans for a “living memorial” in the form of a garden planted by the National Trust with funding from Bloomberg. At its center will be a circle of 33 blossoming trees, representing the city and its 32 boroughs, and recalling the pandemic’s springtime beginnings.

n

The garden u201cwill be a permanent reminder of the lives that have been lost, a tribute to every single key worker, and a symbol of how Londoners have stood together to help one another,u201d Khan told the Evening Standard.

n

 

n

Gu00f3mez Platero, World Memorial to the Pandemic
nMontevideo, Uruguay

n

Gu00f3mez Platero, World Memorial to the Pandemic, Montevideo, Uruguay (rendering). Courtesy of Gu00f3mez Platero.

Gu00f3mez Platero, World Memorial to the Pandemic, Montevideo, Uruguay (rendering). Courtesy of Gu00f3mez Platero.

n

Gu00f3mez Platero announced plans to built the world’s first COVID memorial in August. The architecture firm says it is in talks with the Uruguayan government to build the monument on an unused urban waterfront site in Montevideo.

n

“By creating a memorial capable of activating senses and memories,” lead architect Martu00edn Gu00f3mez Platero said in a statement, “we can remind our visitorsu2014as the pandemic hasu2014that we as human beings are subordinate to nature and not the other way around.u201d

n

n

Madeleine Fugate, COVID Memorial Quilt
n
California Science Center, Los Angeles

n

Madeleine Fugate with the COVID Memorial Quilt. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Madeleine Fugate with the COVID Memorial Quilt. Photo courtesy of the artist.

n

Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which her mother helped work on in the 1980s, 13-year-oldu00a0Madeleine Fugate started collecting fabric swatches honoring the individual victims of the coronavirus as a final project for her history class. Her hope is to have the loved ones of each of the deceased contribute a square for the quilt, which is set to go on view for a year at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

n

u201cIf we forget about all these people that have died, itu2019s like weu2019re losing a little bit of humanity,u201d Fugate told National Geographic. u201cYou really understand, when you see the squares and get to hold them in your hands, how much these people meant to the people sending the squares.u201d

n

 

n

Graham Ibbeson, Covid Memorial and tribute to key workers
nBarnsley, UK

n

Graham Ibbeson's design for a planned COVID-19 memorial in Barnsley, UK. Image by Graham Ibbeson, courtesy of Barnsley Council.

Graham Ibbeson’s design for a planned COVID-19 memorial in Barnsley, UK. Image by Graham Ibbeson, courtesy of Barnsley Council.

n

The UK town of Barnsley has tapped sculptor Graham Ibbeson to honor the efforts of essential workers during the pandemic with a new permanent monument that represents the way in which the entire community has been affected by the virus.

n

 

n

PAST

n

Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg,u00a0IN AMERICA How Could This Happen…
n
DC Armory, Washington, DC

n

n

n

n

It took two months for sculptor Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg to get government approval to plant a sea of white flags outside the DC Armory in October, one for each US life lost to COVID-19. At the time, the death count was 219,000, with the artist adding new flags daily to match the mounting toll. In the months since the piece concluded, that number has more than doubled.

n

“I know how valuable each life is, because I’ve had the opportunityu2014the honoru2014to be with people at a very difficult time in their lives, as they’re saying goodbye,” the artist, who volunteered as a hospice nurse for 25 years, told NPR.

n

The temporary artwork has since been turned into a digitalu00a0installation by Maggie Peterson.

n

 

n

MTA Arts & Design, Travels Far
n
107 MTA Subway Stations in New York City

n

"MTA

n

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York honored its own with a video tributeu00a0featuring photographs of many of the over 100 employees who had died of coronavirus. It ran at stations throughout the subway system three times a day through February 7, and can still be viewed online.

n

The memorial was conceived by MTA Arts & Design director Sandra Bloodworth, who created the artwork with Cheryl Hageman and Victoria Statsenko, and co-led by Andrew Wilcox. Gene Ribeiro and Gary Jenkins provided graphic support, with audio by composer Christopher Thompson, and a newly commissioned poem, u201cTravels Far,u201d by US poet laureate Tracy K. Smith.

n

 

n

Memorial Drive
n
Belle Isle, Detroit

n

Images of COVID-19 victims from Detroit are displayed in a drive-by memorial at Belle Isle State Park on September 2, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images.

Images of COVID-19 victims from Detroit are displayed in a drive-by memorial at Belle Isle State Park on September 2, 2020 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images.

n

The city of Detroit honored its dead with a memorial of photographs of over 900 locals who died of the virus that stretched for miles along Belle Isle on September 2. The display was organized byu00a0Detroit Arts and Culture director Rochelle Riley.

n

“It’s easy to get numb in this environment, but we must not justu00a0look at thisu00a0as numbers,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said at the event, according to the Detroit Free Press. “These are people. Men and women, fathers and mothers,u00a0daughters and sons, brothers and sisters,u00a0who had dreams and plans andu00a0a story. They weren’t finished yet.”

n

 

n

Marked by COVID
nRose Garden at the Arizona State Capitol, Phoenix

n

n

n

n

n

n

At the Day of the Dead COVID Memorial, 500 chairs, each with a tea candle on it, sit in front of the Rose Garden at the…

n

Posted by Marked By COVID on Saturday, October 31, 2020

n

n

n

On on November 1, the Day of the Dead, the nonprofit Marked by COVID set up 500 chairs, each with a lit tea candle, to represent the nearly 6,000 Arizonans pandemic victimsu2014particularly from hard-hit communities of color.

n

“The idea for this celebration tonight, this memorial, is to create a space for us to mourn out loud,” organizer Kristin Urquiza, whose father was among the dead, told AZ Central.

n

 

n

Andrea Arroyo,u00a0CoVIDAu00a0
n
Morris Jumel Mansion, New York

n

"Andrea

n

Welcoming visitors to the grounds of Manhattan’s oldest single family home, the Morris Jumel Mansion, this winter, was a delicate yet evocative cut paper and ribbon installation that served as New York’s first memorial to the pandemic that had ravaged the city.

n

Its site, at a property that has survived everything from the American Revolution to the September 11 attacks, served as a reminder of the resiliency of New Yorkers, while Andrea Arroyo’s floral garlands, commonly used in Day of the Dead altars, spoke to the Latin American community of surrounding Washington Heights, the neighborhood in Manhattan that has seen the most COVID deaths.

n

CoVIDA acknowledges that life continues during the pandemic, and while we reflect on the devastating loss of life, we look to the future with hope, and celebrate the life that is here and now,u201d said the artist in a statement.

n

 

n

Georgia Coalition 2 Save Lives, Loved Ones, Not Numbers
nNational Center for Civil and Human Rights, Atlanta

n

"Georgia

n

The Georgia Coalition 2 Save Lives put up a wall of 5,000 broken paper hearts outside Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights in August. The state’s dead numbered 5,300 at that time.

n

“We know that these deaths were preventable and more deaths can be prevented if the governor issues an ordinance statewide for mandatory masks,”u00a0Jana Johnson-Davis, an educator and local school boardu00a0 member who helped organize the display, told MSN.

n

 

n

Sonia Gutiu00e9rrez, Luminarias on S. Washington Ave.
nFayetteville, Arkansas

n

"One

n

Artist Sonia Gutiu00e9rrez created an eight-block trail of 212 glowing paper lanterns in her neighborhood in Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Christmas Eve. She read a prayer as she installed each luminaria, which represented the 212 residents of the city’s Washington County who had died to that point.

n

The temporary installation was designed to be a u201chealing and restful space,u201d the artist told PBS.

n
Follow Midnight Publishing Group News on Facebook:

nn
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