Four years after start of Covid, Green-Wood Cemetery opens community art memorial honoring New Yorkers

May 3, 2024

Photos courtesy of Erik McGregor

Four years after the start of the pandemic, a new memorial at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery remembers the lives lost to Covid-19 and those still affected by the pandemic. Created by Naming the Lost Memorials (NTLM) and City Lore, “A Big, Slow, Majestic Covid Memorial” features tributes created by 22 community groups from across New York City. The memorial, stretching 200 feet across the cemetery’s historic wrought-iron fence near the main entrance at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, is on view through June 3.

NTLM, a group of volunteer artists, activists, and folklorists, has curated memorials honoring Covid-19 victims across the five boroughs since May 2020. The memorials serve as a way to remember the lives lost to the pandemic and bring attention to the monumental loss of life.

The memorial features a designated space for public participation where visitors can add their own tributes to the wall.

This year’s theme comes with permission from Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, author of “The Future is Disabled,” who stated:

“Everyone is holding so much grief right now, and it’s so hard, but it’s kind of created this bigger, slower, majestic space to be real with what’s going on and organize from that space,” Piepzna-Samarasinha said. 

Community partners include:

  • Bronx Documentary Center
  • Casa Yurumein
  • University Heights High School
  • Vishnu Mandir Hindu Temple
  • BAAD/Health & Hip Hop, Inc. 
  • Come Forever Mutual Aid & Health Resources Center
  • Guyana Cultural Association
  • Parent Child Relationship Association
  • Project Reach Youth
  • Purelements Evolution in Dance
  • The Bklyn Combine
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Association
  • Women’s Empowerment Coalition of New York
  • Yaffa Cultural Arts 
  • Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts
  • Jews of Jackson Heights
  • Epicenter NYC 
  • La Colmena
  • Archive Based Creative Arts
  • Health Care Workshop
  • Long Covid Justice
  • New Moon Sisters

Last May, NTLM presented “The Many Losses from Covid-19” along the cemetery’s fence. The memorial consisted of personalized tributes to the 79,000 New Yorkers lost to the virus, as well as those suffering from long Covid.

NTLM will continue to curate memorials through 2025 as part of The Monuments Project, a nationwide initiative funded in large part by the Mellon Foundation. Select parts of these memorials will be archived at the New-York Historical Society for future exhibitions and research into the effects of the pandemic.

Green-Wood is inviting the public for a memorial activation and dedication ceremony on Sunday, May 19 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The ceremony will bring together community partners, the NTLM team, and New Yorkers for an evening with a procession, second line, traditional singers, and a ritual of remembrance.

The ceremony will also be livestreamed on CityLore’s YouTube channel.


All photos courtesy of Erik McGregor

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