Rise Up is a COVID-19 memorial and tribute from Project Art Heals. This sustainable, collaborative multimedia project blends art, medicine, science, and community.
Rise Up presents three brightly colored human figures comprising small mementos donated by the public to commemorate pandemic losses and journeys, and countless pieces of clean health care waste. The figures are joyously jumping and “held in space” by thousands of empty COVID-19 vaccine vials.
When I received my first COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, I asked for the vial to remember that moment and to symbolize our path to healing. I wanted to honor our patients, our community, health care workers, science, and humanity. The COVID-19 global pandemic has affected most everyone on earth, but there was no community tribute for the pandemic. People across the globe were experiencing pandemic fatigue, and health care communities were suffering profound moral injury and burnout (including me). I felt like we needed something to acknowledge our pandemic journeys. Project Art Heals was born when that first vial grew into tens of thousands of vials and when artist Heidi Calega said, “I'm 100% in” to collaborate.
Whether you are standing in front of the 5' x 5' mosaic in the University of Utah Hospital lobby or viewing it online via the interactive high-resolution maps, my hope is that Rise Up creates a space for people to pause, reflect, acknowledge, mourn, and heal (asamonitor.pub/3vCSrVo; asamonitor.pub/3GaLyPT). Even if you did not donate a memento, collect health care waste, or receive a vaccine dose from the vials in the art, anyone can be considered a part of this project simply by having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic. This art project is for everyone, near and far.
I encourage you to read the courageous, touching, and sometimes funny stories behind the donated mementos and explore the art piece in stunning detail (asamonitor.pub/3X3QXPo; asamonitor.pub/3IpyV6a).
In the words of Andra Day's song “Rise Up”:
“All we need is hope,
And for that we have each other...”