Knoxville creating COVID-19 memorial mural

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon and Dogwood Arts are commissioning a memorial mural for the more than 600 Knox County residents who have died due to COVID-19.

The mural will replace the flags planted on the front lawn of the City-County Building that was started last December, during the pandemic’s biggest surge. It will be painted on one of the Clinch Avenue Viaduct underpasses at World’s Fair Park by artist Kelsey Montague and her team.

Artist Kelsey Montague

“Everyone has suffered and sacrificed over the past 14 months – and some much more so than others,” Kincannon said. “Our hope is that this memorial will be a place of solace and healing. It will recognize how we as a community came together to look out for one another during a public health emergency.”

Montague’s memorial mural will feature a motif of brightly-colored flying birds soaring into a blue archway near the base of the Sunsphere. It will allow a person to stand in front of the mural and appear to be releasing the flock.

Montague has created large-scale interactive street murals around the world, and each piece provides an opportunity for viewers to become part of a “living work of art.”

One of her more well-known works includes a set off wings in The Gulch neighborhood of Nashville.

“I am beyond honored to create this COVID memorial piece for Knoxville,” the artist said. “Each bird is unique and beautiful and represents a person we lost to the pandemic. I encourage people to stand in front of the mural and appear to be ‘releasing’ the flock to the heavens. I hope this mural is cathartic and honors all those we lost.”

The city will provide an agency grant to Dogwood Arts, with funding of up to $25,000 for the pandemic memorial.

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