The ravaging nature of Covid-19 pandemic has consumed the lives of 1.15 million individuals, internationally. As the scale continues to rise, the number becomes incomprehensible; soon over 1.15 million humans will die as a result of the virus, permanently impacting an incalculable number of families and loved ones. This loss of life is only amplified by the inability to be physically present and impart a final goodbye.
Similar to thousands of communities around the world, my hometown on the North Fork of Long Island, NY suffered the convulse of the pandemic. From April of 2020, I have watched the virus shatter everything I have ever known, unable to take action from the frozen position inside my home. It drained the life from the local farms, restaurants, and businesses to the people who have only contributed generosity and kindness to our tiny slice of the world. It hurt me most personally when my uncle, at the age of 63 was diagnosed with coronavirus. As a dedicated farmer with a huge heart, he endured three weeks in the ICU on a ventilator, two weeks on the COVID floor, and two weeks of rehabilitation. Experiencing this uncertainty first-hand is traumatic, but brought me to a place of reflection on life. Although my uncle was able to survive this calamity, many people within my community were not. Their absence has left devastating holes within their families and our town. Having a deep connection to my home and the pandemic, I designed a memorial to embrace the life of those who passed.
With the goal of reflection and community, the structure of this memorial alludes to the cultural and historical identity of the North Fork. The memorial is intended to resemble a barn, which is familiar architecture significant to the location. The structure is placed on the imposing landscape of a sod farm; these expansive grass fields surround the roads of the North Fork, providing peace and serenity for all residents. The exterior of the memorial is internally concealed with mirrored metal to emphasize the importance of reflection, maintain privacy, and represent the unpredictability we often face during these times. Upon entrance, visitors are greeted with a protruding boulder that symbolizes strength; engraved on the surface is a list of names for each life lost to COVID within our community. The boulder is wrapped in an installation of suspended dove lights that progress to the ceiling and throughout the space; these doves embody the local lives, hope, peace, and faith. Although the exterior is mirrored, the interior is completely transparent so a visitor feels one with the landscape and environment, immersing in the idea of tranquility. Lastly, the floor incorporates the mirrored metal in a form that responds to the benches and reflects the sky is a reminder that those who have died have risen to a better place. Ultimately, I wanted to create a sheltered memorial space for local patrons to express their grief and reflect in the company of our community.
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