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Covid-19 Memorial Design Competition

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Nicole Akten

ID: 1217

Designer's Choice Award

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ID: 1217
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This memorial serves the purpose of awareness to a minority that has never received the benefit of the doubt. To every 100,000 Americans - 90 Indigenous people died from Coronavirus, making their mortality rate the second highest in minorities. The site of the project  will be in a public space but resonates back to the sacred land of Native tribes. Broad emotional ideas this site explores is the feeling of distress and urgency. Smoke signals warn far away tribes that danger is approaching or help is needed which is reflected in the installation design. Here we pay our honor/recognize the strength and endurance of this minority as they still fight for the injustice and displacement of their people. This memorial is to be viewed as a passive display and maybe transported to different open field locations.

The base is constructed with black obsidian which holds the power of healing. It’s reflection mirrors the landscape signifying all the American soil that once was theirs. Etched onto all four sides of the obsidian are Native American symbols with deep meaning; the morning star - symbolizes courage, a black butterfly - signifies bad news or illness, an arrow facing left - symbolizing protection/ to ward off evil, and lastly brothers - this shows two people bound through a life journey together with their feet connected together to represent their equality. In order for smoke to be dark and seen from far, Indigenous people would canopy a wet blanket. This is represented in the installation design as well as the “smoke” which is constructed with recycled PET bottles and plastic made from packing materials.

This design holds a sentimental value because growing up beside the Shinnecock Native American nation on Shinnecock Hills, NY - I never saw a minority fight for basic human rights as long as I have seen my neighbors fight for their stolen land. Still today, the local government takes so much from the Indigenous people who have so little.

Nicole AktenNicole AktenNicole AktenNicole Akten

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