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Art museum paints COVID-19 memorial wall

By Cole Trahan

On Thursday and Friday, LaGrange Art Museum board members and others painted hearts on the museum’s exterior wall representing lives lost to COVID-19 in Troup County. Other participants included executive director Laura Jennings and museum staff members. According to Jennings, there are at least 188 hearts on the wall.

Jennings said she was inspired to do the project after reading about a similar one in London.

“I read The New York Times, and they had a photograph of a COVID memorial wall on the Thames River … in London,” she explained. “And an artist had painted the hearts, and then people had come back and just organically arrived and wrote the names of their loved ones in the hearts.”

Jennings hopes the wall will serve as an outlet for COVID-19 related grief, allows for reflection on deaths caused by COVID and inspires everyone to take the virus seriously.

She also hopes the mural conveys the message that art heals.

“If you think about the times that we lived through in the last year and a half — almost a year and a half — the arts really carried us through it,” she said. “You know, when people were quarantined in their homes, they painted, they gardened, they created in the kitchen, they read books, they watched movies — all inspired by the arts. Art is just central to our lives and our wellbeing. And I think it’s a big part of healing as well.”

She isn’t sure how long the mural will stay up but said that the museum tends to do “something different” on the wall about every six months. Jennings said people are welcome to write names of loved ones in the hearts with Sharpies. She added that she hopes people will be respectful.