An extraordinary memorial to COVID-19 victims will be dedicated in the coming days at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, just east of the neighborhoods of Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights that represented the epicenter of the pandemic as it peaked in Queens.
As the nationwide death count passed 100,000 victims this week, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada, one of the world’s most prominent contemporary artists, was putting the finishing touches on a 20,000-square-foot ground mural in the parking lot adjacent to the Queens Museum alongside the New York State Pavilion.
The eyes of the portrait are based upon one of the first minority doctors who died from COVID-19. Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo was 70 years old and ready to retire when he joined the frontlines in the battle against the coronavirus outbreak as part of the SOMOS Community Care network in New York City that is comprised mainly of immigrant Latino and Chinese doctors treating those in marginalized communities.
Rodriguez-Girada went through hundreds of pictures of health care workers before selecting Dr. Decoo, but the project is not just about him. The art installation pays tribute to all victims of COVID-19, and the healthcare workers and first responders who put their own lives on the line caring for them.
The Cuban-American artist cleared four Home Depots of the paint he used on the project. The NYC Parks Department, the Queens Museum, SOMOS and Make the Road New York all played crucial roles in the memorial’s creation.