The moving exhibit “LIVING ICONS: A Commemoration of the Victims of Houston’s CoVid-19 Pandemic” has found a permanent home at the Quentin Mease Health Center. It will grace the grand entryway of the administrative and rehab center there.
The exhibit created by international artist Joni Zavitsanos with her collaborator Karen Hoovestol Weimmer has had a long and successful stay at John P. McGovern Museum of Health & Medical Science since December 2021.
The amazing exhibit is an artistic remembrance of Houstonians lost to CoVid-19. It will open to the public in its permanent home at 3601 North McGregor Way on June 5. On June 4 there will be an open house, ribbon cutting and dedication from 2-4 pm when some of the families of the people memorialized in the exhibit are especially invited.
“Now that the exhibit has a forever home it will help make the memory ever eternal of the loved ones memorialized,” said Ms. Zavitsanos.
Ms. Zavitsanos has explained that in March of 2020 she was concerned as she heard growing stories of local people dying but it all seemed so anonymous. “These are real people with names and faces,” she said. The memorial is a collaged grid with each person commemorated on an 8-inch by 8-inch canvas with their picture and a gold leaf halo, a nod to the artists’ Byzantine art background.
Ms. Zavitsanos said she has nearly 1,000 people in the memorial. In her studio she has put up about 144 of the canvasses and even that had caused visitors to gasp when they see it for the first time. The power of the larger display is palpable.
Ms. Zavitsanos has said of this exhibit:
“This Project and the creative catalyst it generated found its way to my heart as I watched news story after news story reporting deaths in the various counties around the city of Houston. I was deeply troubled by the anonymity of these victims. Towards the end of March 2020, shortly after the lockdown, I began searching for names and families of Houston area victims of COVID-19 so that I could personally and individually honor them. I have chosen to depict them in a large-scale, gridded art piece and plan to gather their families to host a memorial service to open what I hope to be an extended presence for this installation.”
The artist said she has a village of people to thank for their help in finding a home for the memorial including: Doug Harris, Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, Becky Seabrook, Christos Angelides, Paul A. Pavlou, Molly Glentzer, Christine Jelson West, Angie Blackwell Liollio, Karen Krail Craft, Interfaith Ministries, Lisa Malosky, Reverend Fr. Louis J. Christopoulos, John Zavitsanos, Belinda Moreno, Cynthia Reyes-Revilla, Dana Mandola Corbett, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, Esther Porres, Hon. Lambros Kakissis, James Campbell, Justine Warburton, Minnie Nikolaou Stamos, and Marsha McDade Nichols.