City Honors Lives Lost to COVID-19 with Photo Memorial

New somervilleremembers.org site features photographs of empty chairs in community locations to represent residents who have died due to coronavirus

With the United States crossing 250,000 lives lost to COVID-19, the Somerville Arts Council has put together www.somervilleremembers.org, a website that features pictures from local photographers that mark the passing of Somerville residents due to this pandemic. The photos use empty chairs displayed in Somerville locations, each to represent a person who has succumbed to this virus.

The project was undertaken when the city’s confirmed fatalities stood at 42 people. Sadly, the number continues to rise and now stands at 47.

“Every life lost to this disease is a tragedy and these people deserve to be remembered,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatione. “If we suffered any other catastrophe that cost us 47 souls, our city would come to an immediate stop as people tried to process the shock and grief of that loss. Because disease moves more slowly it doesn’t hit us all at once, but the cumulative impact is no less devastating. Each of those empty chairs represents a person who is no longer able to spend time with us, who leaves a space that can never be filled.”

The photos feature familiar locations such as the Davis Square T station and the Latta Brothers Memorial Pool at Foss Park as well as local porches, streets, murals and businesses. The artists for the project are Jaina Cipriano, Kathlyn Almeida, Charles Daniels, Asia Kepka, Yorgos Efthymiadis, and Caleb Cole.

In her statement about the project, Cipriano said: “Grief is complicated. When we experience a deep loss there is a sense of the world moving too fast around us while time is standing still. It is almost unbearable when mixed with this permanent sense of waiting – of forgetting and expecting to see the one we’ve lost. We have to rediscover our grief many times before it sticks. I searched for locations that were heavy with expectancy, blurred with motion or glaringly empty to explore these feelings. In each photo there is a bit of beauty, the golden touch of light or the delicate growth of a vine, a reminder of the way we heal – slowly and moment by moment.”

Members of the public are encouraged not only to visit the site to pay homage to those who have passed, but also to donate to the Somerville Cares Fund at somervillema.gov/somervillecares to help those who are struggling to afford housing, food, and basic necessities during this crisis. Members of the local arts community have been particularly hard hit by the economic recession ushered in by this pandemic.

 


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