Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Ohio state park’s sculpture honors COVID-19 victims

The sculpture by artist Kevin Lyles titled “After the Storm” is now on display at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe. (Photo courtesy of ODNR)

Chillicothe, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio DNR Director (ODNR) Mary Mertz recently unveiled a new memorial honoring the victims and survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After the Storm,” a mixed-media sculpture designed and created by Ohio artist Kevin Lyles, is now on permanent display at the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe.

“This sculpture is a meaningful addition to the memorial grove at Great Seal State Park,”
said DeWine. “After the Storm represents the memory of loved ones lost,
the strength of survivors, and the courage of those who faced – and are
still facing – the impacts of the pandemic.”

DeWine and Mertz dedicated the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove to the heroes
and victims of the pandemic in April 2021. The grove was designed by
ODNR to provide a peaceful place of solitude for visitors to remember
and reflect on the pandemic.

The sculpture, which stands 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide, reflects the
natural characteristics of Great Seal State Park’s hilly landscape. Its
foundation is a stainless-steel grid cage filled with locally sourced
glacial rock. Its curved lines follow the hollows and ravines of the
area, like the park’s trail system.

“The peace and serenity often found in nature have been beautifully depicted
in the striking sculpture, After the Storm,” Mertz said. “From the
native birds in flight to the way the sun interacts with the steel
sculpture, we hope that visitors will find optimism for the future in
the quietness of the COVID-19 Memorial Grove.”

Nearly 40 species of birds, such as swallows, gulls, raptors, and
hummingbirds, were included in the sculpture. The natural world is a
reoccurring theme in Lyles’ art. He chose birds as a memorial symbol
because, for him, they personify how COVID-19 did not differentiate by
age, race, wealth, religion, or gender.

“As the base rises up, a grid symbolizing the pattern of life features
stainless-steel negative silhouettes of various bird species, which
become partially and then fully realized three-dimensional cutouts of
Ohio birds soaring up to the heavens,” said Lyles.

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