The Morris-Jumel Mansion announces the new, outdoor public art installation CoVIDA – Homage to Victims of the Pandemic, on view from November 2 to December 31, 2020. As an artistic tribute to the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, CoVIDA honors the people who have passed away from the virus, acknowledges the resilience of our community, and recognizes the courage of essential workers still on the front lines.
CoVIDA is created by internationally-recognized artist Andrea Arroyo, who lives a few blocks from the museum in Washington Heights. The title combines the word “COVID” with vida, meaning “life” in Spanish. Inspired by a range of traditional memorials from across the globe, Arroyo combines multiple elements including stylized winged figures, used in various cultures to represent the universal concept of freedom; the silhouette of the cityscape which celebrates the healing of our city; flower garlands in the traditional cempasúchitl color of Latin America’s Day of the Dead; papel picado; and adornments that evoke traditional memorial ribbons, wish trees, prayer flags and altars. Ribbons incorporated into the piece will feature names of pandemic victims, submitted by the public for inclusion in the living memorial.
The Morris-Jumel Mansion will install CoVIDA on the gates and fence of Roger Morris Park – the site of the historic 1765 home and Manhattan’s oldest surviving residence. Shiloh Holley, Executive Director at Morris-Jumel Mansion, relays that this property and its former inhabitants have witnessed and withstood other national trials and tragedies for centuries, ranging from displacement, wars, financial crashes, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and the present day COVID-19 crisis. “The grounds of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, which formerly comprised 130 acres, is a fitting place to display CoVIDA – Homage to Victims of the Pandemic, as each testify to the resilience of the people of New York City to survive and surmount tragedy and sorrow.”
The CoVIDA project acknowledges the impact of the pandemic and creates a safe opportunity for community engagement, as well as a space for reflection and intersectional conversations. The neighborhood of Washington Heights, like other regions of the country, has been devastated by COVID-19. “Due to quarantines and strict social distancing guidelines, people have not been able to come together to grieve as a community, to be with loved ones as they passed, or bear witness to the scale of this tragedy across the country,” said artist Andrea Arroyo. “In addition to acknowledging our cultural heritage and the land of the Lenape Nation that we stand on today, 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.”
The piece features an important public participation element, and individuals are invited to submit names in person and virtually of loved ones lost to the pandemic throughout the run of the exhibition. Submissions can be made on-site at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and on the grounds of Roger Morris Park, at community satellite locations, and virtually by filling out a form located at morrisjumel.org/covida