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New COVID-19 memorial captures reflections and pays tribute to lives lost

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COVID-19 changed people, and we got through it together. That is the message intended in the new COVID memorial art installed in June at Civic Plaza and the Bloomington Public Health Center.

“We lost 285 of our neighbors here in Bloomington during COVID. We had many people lose jobs. Lives were disrupted,” said Dr. Nicholas Kelley, Bloomington’s Public Health administrator. “This memorial is a tangible way to use art and all the therapeutic tools of art to help bring some healing and closure to some of the challenges Bloomington navigated.”

The new memorial pays tribute to the lives lost to COVID-19 and captures the reflections of a variety of Bloomington voices. Development included an artist selection process. Together with the artists selected, Aaron Squadroni and Leah Yellowbird, the City facilitated community engagement activities at Hillcrest Elementary School, Creekside Community Center, Civic Plaza and Martin Luther Campus, Fairview. Bloomington Public Health and Creative Placemaking worked together on this project.

“It was a great opportunity for students to reflect upon and share their memories now that they are old enough to understand,” said a participant from the Hillcrest session.

With federal funding, the memorial consists of imprinted metal that forms a quilt and is intended to inspire contemplation. “The idea of wrapping its arms around you and creating its own little space for you to reflect, I thought that was important,” said Squadroni.

“Quilts are there for stories, and so this is a big story to be told,” said Yellowbird.

The COVID-19 Memorial will likely be moved to its permanent location at the planned community health and wellness center once that center is completed.