COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new sculpture was unveiled by Ohio leaders Wednesday at the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove to honor those who lost their lives to the virus.
"After the Storm," a mixed-media sculpture, is now a permanent fixture at the memorial grove in Great Seal State Park. It was created by Ohio artist Kevin Lyles and stands 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide.
The stainless-steel grid cage is filled with locally sourced glacier rock. Mimicking the park's terrain, the sculpture has curved lines resembling the hollows and ravines found in the park's trail system.
The eye-catching aspect of this large piece is the flock of birds that appears to be flying out of the sculpture. ODNR says nearly 40 species of birds, such as swallows, gulls, raptors, and hummingbirds were featured in the sculpture.
The release from ODNR says Lyle chose birds as a memorial symbol because, for him, they personify how COVID did not differentiate by age, race, wealth, religion or gender.
“As the base rises up, a grid symbolizing the pattern of life features stainless-steel negative silhouettes of various bird species, which become partially and then fully realized three-dimensional cutouts of Ohio birds soaring up to the heavens,” said Lyles. “The memorial is a reminder that we were privileged to have our loved ones with us, and this isn’t their end, our memories of them have transformed into blessings that we will keep with us.”
The grove in Chillicothe, dedicated in 2021, features native Ohio trees that were planted by COVID-19 survivors, families of Ohioans killed by the virus, healthcare workers, first responders, teachers, students, local community leaders, and others from state agencies.
The grove was built to serve as a place of solace and peace for those who lost loved ones during the pandemic, according to the ODNR website.
“This sculpture is a meaningful addition to the memorial grove at Great Seal State Park,” said Governor DeWine. “'After the Storm' represents the memory of loved ones lost, the strength of survivors, and the courage of those who faced - and are still facing - the impacts of the pandemic.
ODNR says the sculpture will appear to be lit by the sun's natural light throughout the day, changing colors with the sky.