International artist Joni Zavitsanos’ touching mosaic memorial honoring the Houston area people killed by COVID-19 was featured in the Houston Chronicle story “Houston artist launches a COVID memorial project.”
A story by senior writer Molly Glentzer chronicled how Ms. Zavitsanos started gathering names slowly in the spring but wound up getting more and more folks as time went on.
“To date, Zavitsanos has collected 110 names and pictures — ‘just a snippet,’ she acknowledges, since more than 800 Houston region residents have died,” Ms. Glentzer wrote. She quoted Ms. Zavitsanos saying: “Each and every one has a name and a story. They are of every race, every skin color, every socio-economic background, every age . . . They are fathers, mothers, aunts and uncles, children and grandparents. They are first responders, priests, pastors, deacons, activists and political leaders. Some are from nursing homes and prisons and halfway houses…. Not all people are treated with dignity and respect.”
The story explains how Ms. Zavitsanos paints in a Byzantine Greek icon style she learned from her father and has modernized into her own. The story notes the portrait starts with a photograph affixed to an 8-by-8-inch wooden block, and then the face is surrounded with paint and a gold leaf halo. Commemorative wreaths made by her friend Karen Weimmer that will have molded leaves with hand-written names.
“It could be hung as it is today,” Ms. Zavitsanos told the newspaper. “But people are still dying. I want it to be as full as it needs to be.”
Ms. Zavitsanos told Ms. Glentzer that she hopes to unveil the memorial wall during a service for all of her subjects when that is possible again.