By Sharon Santillo
With reverence for the healing power of the arts, Malden Arts announced plans for a COVID-19 memorial as the newest addition to the ARTLine on the Northern Strand Community Trail, a public art gallery that stretches long the Malden section of the 10-mile path.
The COVID-19 memorial, consisting of a sculpture, bench and a mural of poetry and art, will be located at the Franklin Street crossing of the trail in Malden, as part of Phase Two of the ARTLine.
“This pocket park will not only serve as public art, but also be a special space to remember and honor those that we lost to the COVID pandemic, the families who are grieving, the workers who went above and beyond, and our neighbors who pitched in and came together,” said Malden Arts President Ari Taylor.
State Senator Jason Lewis had state funds set aside for this project; Malden Councillor Debbie DeMaria provided additional funding for the sculpture and the bench; and State Rep. Paul Donato was instrumental in working with the MBTA.
Artist Thomas Berger from Kittery, Maine, was chosen to create the sculpture and the bench out of applicants from Phase One of the ARTLine. Both pieces will be made of local granite and feature implanted mosaics of blue tiles set flush with the stone into a fish sculpture, a wave bench, and a mosaic pool. Fish and water are powerful symbols of interconnectedness in many cultures across human history, according to Malden Arts. Transforming this blighted corner of the trail with a place to sit and reflect, will give passersby an opportunity to read the dedication, the poems and see the mural tributes to all who have suffered and served during the Covid pandemic.
Malden Arts is sending out a Call to Artists seeking contributions from local poets and artists for a mural to honor the victims of COVID. The deadline for applications is Feb.15. With the assistance of Malden resident Lisa Sears, who has coordinated two exhibits in the past with the help of local artists, Malden Arts is reaching out to Malden’s pool of local talent to create this mural.
Malden Arts hopes this memorial will become another cherished location along the ARTLine—joining the Emberley mural and Spirit in the Sky mural on Exchange Street; the bike sculpture, bench, and mural on Canal Street; and the Frank Stella mural and the train murals on Centre Street.
DeMaria has contributed to this project and has served as City Councillor for the past 10 years. She has chosen to retire from that role and honored Malden Arts by partnering on this final project of her legacy. According to Malden Arts, it embodies her generous spirit and will serve as a welcome gathering spot for Malden residents using the Northern Strand Community Trail.
“The plans of Malden’s COVID-19 Memorial pocket park will be impressive! My collaboration with Malden Arts is simply a dream come true. From the details of location, the implementation of tiles that are reflective of water, as the community asked for, to the contemplative location; I’m so very, very pleased,” said DeMaria.
Sharon Santillo is a citizen journalist for Neighborhood View and a Malden Arts Board Member. She can be reached at email@example.com
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