A giant mural memorializes NYC doctor who died from COVID-19

June 3, 2020

GreenPoint Innovations / Eduardo Amorim for Gerada Art

A massive art mural that honors a New York City doctor who died from the coronavirus has taken over a parking lot in Queens. Spray-painted by Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada, the land art, titled “Somos La Luz” depicts Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo, a Dominican immigrant who lived in Washington Heights and skipped retirement to treat patients during the pandemic. The project also aims to memorialize all front line employees in New York City, particularly Hispanic and African American workers who continue to face disproportionate rates of infection and death caused by the virus.

Commissioned by SOMOS Community Care, a group of immigrant physicians that serves people in low-income and immigrant communities, and Make the Road New York, the mural was painted by Rodríguez-Gerada in just five days.

The 40,000-square-foot mural will be on display in the parking lot of the Queens Museum in Corona Park through the rest of the week. The location was chosen by the artist because the neighborhood has been one of the city’s hardest-hit during the pandemic.

“The large-scale works that I have created around the world all convey that we need to come together to make the world a better place,” Rodríguez-Gerada wrote in a post on Facebook. “The size of my large-scale works is directly related to the importance of the theme.”

“This artwork ‘Somos La Luz’ strives to give deeper meaning to the loss of each life, it strives to make evident the importance of every life as well as to value the amazing contribution of migrant people,” he added.

Black and Latino New Yorkers are dying at twice the rate of white residents from COVID-19, data released by the city and state this month revealed. Data from the state’s health department updated on June 1 shows that Hispanic residents (29 percent of the population) make up 34 percent of fatalities in New York City, while black New Yorkers (22 percent of the population) make up 28 percent of deaths.


All photos courtesy of GreenPoint Innovations / Eduardo Amorim for Gerada Art

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