Kentucky COVID Memorial
LOCATION Kentucky Capital Monuments Park
DESIGNER/SCULPTOR Amanda Matthews
HARDSCAPE Chasteen Enterprizes
INSTALLATION Prometheus Art -
Amanda Matthews & Brad Connell
ENGINEERS Thoroughbred Structural/Civil Engineers
Mohammad Seraji, PE
The Roberts Group
Vaughn Hill, PE
COVID Memorial: Unveiling
Visitors came together in May of 2023 to unveil the COVID Memorial for the State of Kentucky, "United We Stand, Divided We Fall," including notable guests Governor Andy Beshear, First Lady Britainy Beshear, and Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman. The event also featured a chiming of the bells by Kandie Adkinson, prayers by Bishop Kevin McCraney and Rabbi David Wirtschafter, and gospel performances by Elder Mario Webb and the New Covenant Gospel Choir. Designer and sculptor Amanda Matthews gave the final remarks, articulating the monument's detailed concept to the crowd of around 200 people. For more on her concept, please visit the State of Kentucky's COVID Memorial website here.
The Kentucky COVID memorial reflects the ideals, visual symbols, and embodiment of the phrase: United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Also our state motto, this phrase will forever and inexorably be representative of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. It stands as a reminder that Kentuckians must always create a circle of unity to uphold thriving communities. This "Circle of Unity" is represented by the giant mirror-polished stainless steel sphere, held up and elevated by the strength and diversity of our citizens. The central mast, which supports the sphere, represents the doctors, scientists, teachers, first responders, leaders, and frontline service workers; all who have dedicated their lives in service to others. This creates a column of support. The first viewable figure on the column holds a cardinal, known for its role as a spiritual messenger as well as our state bird.
Each of the figures surrounding the column represent diverse Kentuckians, showing support for one another during a time of loss and suffering. These gestural figures, sculpted very loosely, represent many sizes, shapes, ages, races, and genders, and convey the beauty of diversity. They create an outer circle, showing love and support, and contributing to the spirit of Kentucky in their own unique ways. Each is bestowed with a small orb, reminiscent of the large one, that engages the figures in shared interaction. Common to each is a noticeable hole at the base of the neck, in the top of the chest. This empty space represents the indescribable grief and despair at the loss of our loved ones, relatives, and friends who left us far too soon. To honor the sound of ringing bells that we used to demonstrate our collective sorrow during COVID, a small bell resides inside each open space in the chest of the figures, allowing the wind to create a beautiful dialogue between our departed loved ones and those who are still here. The center of the memorial also glows green in the evening to show compassion for those we have lost, as our Governor urged us to do, while the white lights help guide us through the darkest part of the night until the sun comes up the next morning.
Special thanks to the Governor's Office for providing the images above.
Before the COVID memorial stood as it stands now, each component had to come into existence independently and at a much smaller scale. These miniature versions that the artist developed are called maquettes. Once completed with minimal details, each maquette is digitally scanned to create a 3D rendered model, which gets printed in foam at the final large scale. Videos of each rendering are below.
After being printed in foam, the artist adds clay to each sculpture in progress. This way, she can control the detail and dimension at such a large scale, but the foundation and structure of each figure are fixed. Once the process is completed in clay, the figures are molded and recast in wax. This wax gets coated in a shell and eventually burns out, leaving the shell empty and ready for bronze. This is known as the "lost wax" method of bronze casting.