A COVID-19 Memorial Proposal


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The COVID-19 Pandemic is tragic on so many levels. When I learned that those infected and hospitalized were being separated from their loved ones, potentially dying among strangers, I felt a profound sense of grief. And as the pandemic progresses, seeing how it has disproportionally affected communities of color and the immigrant populations of New York City has shed new light on inequality and systemic racism.  

In response to the pandemic, I’m working to create a COVID-19 memorial that is compassionate, inclusive & participatory. The memorial will offer a place for healing and introspection, to process our personal and collective loss, to honor and release those who have died. View the project website


Covid-19 Memorial Design, Side View
Covid-19 Memorial Design, Corner View
Covid-19 Memorial Design, Inside View
Covid-19 Memorial Design, View from Above

The COVID-19 memorial will be made from freshly laundered, lovingly folded and stacked second-hand clothing. The clothing will come from from the local community, including the clothing of COVID-19 victims, donated by their families and loved ones. The memorial will take the form of a giant spiral. Participants can walk around the memorial or enter inside for an immersive experience. The outer part of the spiral will extend into the room, like an open arm, beckoning to the viewer. The memorial will be colorful, with all of the clothing sorted from dark to light. The dimensions will be approximately 10’ (H) x 30’ (W) x 30’ (D). 


Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal

The memorial can be installed in any high-traffic area in any city. In New York City, my home town, the perfect location would be the east side of Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal (GCT). This iconic setting was selected because GCT is at the heart of New York’s transit system. Thousands of people from all walks of life pass through GCT every day. Installing the work in Vanderbilt Hall will enable maximum participation. 


The memorial will be built on site, allowing the public to observe the fabrication process. Stations for folding and stacking will be set up to the side. People can sign up for a folding lesson and and contribute to the development of the memorial. 

Do you know someone who died from COVID-19? 

Or do you know someone who does? Would you, or the person you know, consider donating the clothing of their loved ones to this project? Often when someone passes, we are faced with the question of what to do with their things. Contributing some or all of the clothing to The COVID-19 Memorial, will honor your loved one and help create a space for healing.

If you are interested, let me know and we can schedule a pickup.

Potential Partners

This is the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken. It will require many hands and many hours. I will be building a team, but first, I will need to secure a venue. Next week I will reach out to Grand Central. After that, I will explore funding opportunities with the following organizations: Creative Capital, National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Sculpture Center, No Longer Empty, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Public Art Fund, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Art Production Fund, New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Fractured Atlas, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Doris Duke Charitable FoundationFord Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The New York Community Trust.

Derick Melander, New York City, August 5th, 2020