Milwaukee COVID memorial, victims, heroes represented by 1,800 tiles

A new art installation on Milwaukee's south side seeks to help memorialize some of the area’s victims of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the heroes who tried to save them.

On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 10, a dozen tiled concrete posts were unveiled on Milwaukee's south side.

"We have been working since last winter to install these beautiful ceramic posts that you’ve seen all up and down Cesar Chavez Drive," said Dr. Lori Gramling, La Familia de Arte executive director. "This is a memorial to all of those who helped us during the pandemic and all of those that we lost during the pandemic."

According to one of the young artists, it began as a beautification project that evolved into a memorial with 900 tiles for people who died and another 900 for our everyday heroes.

"I felt kind of proud that we were doing something to let these people know that they are seen, that their voices are heard," said Estefania Hernandez.

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Artists say these installations are meant to be engaged with in two ways. First, they’re meant to be beautiful and aesthetically pleasing to the eye from afar, and second, they’re also meant to be admired up-close. When you look eat each tile, you can see the names and messages written to those who lost their lives, as well as the heroes who tried to save them.

"It was really sad seeing people write down the names of people that just passed away and just lost their lives during this pandemic," said Hernandez.

Death may be sad, but their lives were beautiful and so, too, is the memorial, recognizing their time spent with us and their impact on our lives. 

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