The COVID-19 Commemoration Commission has released a request for artist designs for a memorial to schools, higher education institutions and art organizations
Ulster County will install a sculpture and memorial garden at the Fairgrounds to commemorate the sacrifices and strength of the community during the pandemic
KINGSTON, N.Y. - The COVID-19 Commemoration Commission has begun accepting design proposals from artists for a sculpture that will become the centerpiece of a memorial garden in Ulster County. The Request for Artist Designs is open through November 15th.The project, planned for a spring installation at the Ulster County Fairground complex, is to be a space for rest and reflection with interpretive signage linked to a comprehensive website which will feature the stories of front-line workers and other members of the community.
“This unprecedented time took its toll, but it also showed the shared strength of our communities who came together and persevered through the pandemic,” Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras said. “This project will culminate not just in a simple monument, but a testament to hope, unity, and a lasting message for future generations.”
The commission has engaged school districts across the county, institutions of higher learning and art organizations in order to involve local artists at every level and, in particular, to give youth the opportunity to participate.
“Art can inspire and comfort us. Art also helps us express gratitude during difficult times,” Ulster County Legislative Chair Tracey Bartels said. “The Legislature joins with the Executive to ask our local artists and students to share their vision for a memorial that will honor the lives lost in our communities and the heroic efforts of frontline workers who protected and served our most vulnerable residents during the pandemic.” Chair Bartels adds, “We hope this memorial will not only be a place of solace and healing but will also celebrate how we cared for one another during a worldwide health emergency.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible impact on who we are as families, individuals and community members. A memorial created by our own local resources and artists will bring forth a peaceful setting for reflecting on lives lost while honoring the sacrifice, resilience and determination of our front line workers and our community,” CSEA Unit 8950 President Tina Buono said.
The commission, made up of front line workers ranging from nurses, EMS responders and teachers, to food service, police officers and other essential workers, was established in March of 2022 by former County Executive Pat Ryan. Tasked with developing the project concept, location and processes for a public memorial to honor our Ulster County communities and the impact of COVID-19, the effort has multiple prongs of focus, including front line workers who put their lives on the line during the pandemic, community members who were lost, as well as the spirit of unity among neighbors as they banded together.
Estela Woych of NYSNA commented “This is in memory and dedicated to the best among us in Ulster County, the front line workers who lost their lives to COVID-19 working in selfless service to all.”
Patrick Paulson, assistant store manager of Adams Fairacre Farms in Kingston said, “From the moment I was asked to help with this commission, I knew how important it would be to memorialize what we all went through. Working in the food and retail industry during the pandemic was like nothing I had been through before: from the uncertainty as to what each day would bring, to making sure we could stock our shelves, to worrying everyday that you or someone you know may get sick. We want to make sure we get this right, because there is so much to say and remember.”
Designs can be submitted by mail or in person to the Office of the Ulster County Executive at 244 Fair Street, Kingston NY 12401 or through the Ulster County COVID-19 website: https://codev.ulstercountyny.gov/covid-commemorate/ For more information, call 845-340-3800.