The COVID pandemic will continue to impact our work, communities, and daily lives. The lives that have been lost are palpable, still bringing pain to New Mexico families. As of October 11, 2022, 8,500 New Mexicans and more than a million Americans have died.
Many humbling questions have to be asked before one attempts to design a commemoration of those lost to COVID:
- How do New Mexicans remember?
- How do New Mexicans develop their identities?
- How do we memorialize these persons that have passed in a respectful fashion while recognizing the diversity of ways we mourn and grieve?
Fortunately, the culture of New Mexico is rich with answers to these questions.
New Mexicans have a long memory. We have tales from before the Spanish entrada that place our ancestors in the landscape and descansos and prayer sticks in the landscape that commemorate places and persons. New Mexicans identify themselves with the surrounding mountains, valleys, and sky. Bernalillo County staff and consultants found a place that represented our collective geography on the southeast mesa surrounded by our mountains, overlooking our watersheds and expressive of our identity.
The central idea of the COVID memorial is to create a small pilgrimage where one experiences places for personal and societal expressions of grief. The pilgrimage path is lit by the light filtering through picado walls creating shapes and shadows on the pavement. Many of these picado walls will have places for ofrendas, brought by people to remember persons that have suffered during COVID. The walls will be arranged to focus views mountains or the valley. Colorful plantings of marigolds are strategically planted where the trail changes direction. At the end of each path are dedicated spaces that look outward or inward for a solemn and respectful commemoration of our collective loss during COVID.
The design integrates the COVID-19 national memorial in the node dedicated to societal expressions of grief. By simply reading a QR code an array of photos will appear in a spiral pattern. Some of the photos will have stories attached to them that can be clicked on for audio files. Visitors will be able to search for a loved one who will appear in the array and will also be able to upload images of a loved one.