More than a little light will be shining at the Cape Ann Museum Green this week.
The Gloucester museum has teamed up with local artists and a nonprofit organization to commemorate those — both seaside and beyond — who have died due to the novel coronavirus with a display of cairns, an embroidered quilt, and a dazzling light projection.
“We hope that this brings peace and comfort to our community,” said Lyn Burke, the director of the nonprofit LuminArtz Communications, Ink.
The three-part display will run from Wednesday, March 11, to Sunday, March 14, between 12:30 and 8 p.m.
Museum education manager Miranda Aisling wanted to spearhead the project as she understood so many could not have formal memorial services to commemorate loved ones who had passed.
“Our hope is that through this memorial we can fill the void that was created by the lack of gathering,” she said. “Of course, this does not take the place of a funeral but it can provide some of that healing that people haven’t been able to hold.”
According to city health officials, 40 residents have died from COVID-19. At least 49 Cape Anners and more than 2,000 people from the Essex County have succumbed to the coronavirus.
“Our community has been tested by the pandemic across the past year and I’m proud of so many people coming together to stay strong,” Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken said Friday. “But in Gloucester, when we lose someone it always feels personal — especially so when it comes to COVID-19 — and we grieve together, whether we are direct family or not.”
On Friday, Cape Ann Tree Services donated its time to build the cairns on the CAM Green, on Poplar Street and off Grant Circle, to memorialize those that have passed. Some cairns have been marked with the individual’s name while others will remain anonymous.
The stones have been cemented in the property’s history for quite some time.
“What is important about those stones is that they are actually stones that have always been on the property,” said Oliver Barker, director of the museum. “They are the stones that were found on the property many many centuries ago that were used to delineate boundary lines.”
After the installation has concluded, the stones will be used to create a wall around the Green.
The second part of the installation is the Gloucester Memorial Quilt. Sship wheels embroidered into the patchwork commemorate those that died of COVID-19.
“We left blank spaces because unfortunately, as you know, this pandemic isn’t over,” Aisling said. “That is one thing that we have had to navigate during this whole thing. How do you have a memorial for something that is still going on?”
Among the cairns and sewn fabric will be a dazzling light display that ties it all together.
Boston-based artist Pamela Hersch has created a video art installation that places the local COVID-19 deaths within the regional, state and national context.
“I just love everyone over there and am really honored to be a part of this project,” said Hersch. “I am excited to be working on this and memorializing it the way I can.”
This projection includes a symbol of the souls going from the ground up to the sky, indicating that everyone is together in this somber journey.
LuminArtz has contributed projectors and artist-funding to aid the museum’s desire to shine a light through the city during a dark time.
“The CAM COVID Memorial builds on some relevant and important inaugural program offerings at the campus last year including the In Gratitude (Frontline Heroes) installation; the Call to Colors Ceremony and the Artisans Celebration,” said Barker. “This last event acknowledged the contributions that local artisans made in the creation of the new Cape Ann Museum Green and was deeply meaningful and a real testament to the great talents that are so integral to the Cape Ann community.”
The Cape Ann Museum encourages anyone who would like their loved one to be memorialized in these projects to contact Aisling at email@example.com or 978-283-0455 x125. Family and friends are asked to provide the name of the deceased as well as their town so that the museum can make sure they are included in the memorial.
Staff Writer Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.