ArtsFairfax and the Fairfax County Arts Committee named the artist team of Miriam Gusevich and Salvatore Pirrone to design a permanent memorial to the County’s victims of Covid-19 and to recognize the heroic efforts of county staff, nonprofits, health care providers and others who worked to help with the impact of the pandemic in the County. The memorial will be located in front of the Herrity Building and Public Safety Headquarters at 12055 Government Center Parkway in Fairfax.
More than 1,700 residents of Fairfax County had died of Covid as of March, 2023, according to data compiled by the New York Times. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 262,100 cases had been reported in the county.
The team of Gusevich and Pirrone was the unanimous choice to design, fabricate and install the memorial. Miriam Gusevich is a Cuban American environmental artist, architect, scholar and educator. She was a Loeb Fellow (1997) at Harvard University and received her bachelor’s degree (1975) and master’s degree (1979) in architecture from Cornell University. Her built memorial projects include the “Jane Addams Memorial” (with Louise Bourgeois) and the “Cancer Survivor’s Garden” in Grant Park (with Julie Gross), both in Chicago. “Remember Sambir,” a Holocaust memorial site in Western Ukraine that she began with Peter Miles, is under construction and on hold because of the war.
She is a Washington, D.C. resident and was a tenured professor at the Catholic University of America from 2000-2020.
Salvatore Pirrone is an American artist, designer, and educator. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree (2007) from Parsons at The New School in New York City, and a master’s degree in architecture (2000) from the University of Florida. He has exhibited regionally at Arlington Arts Center, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Cultural DC’s Mobile Art Gallery, Sandy Spring Museum, Transformer, Arlington Project for Affordable Housing, Maryland Art Place, Hillyer Gallery, and the Dittmar House at Marymount University. He lives and works in Upper Marlboro, Md. and is a tenured associate professor of Design and Art at Marymount University in Arlington, Va.
The artists proposed a tall and slender memorial as a landmark to protect a contemplative space. The monument will be comprised of a 27-foot tall hollow concrete cone, divided by a break in the center and topped with an oculus from which to view the sky. Visitors will be invited to sit inside the structure and on the surrounding benches. Entitled “Circles of Memory,” it will honor the local victims of the pandemic and the courage of frontline health care workers, community heroes and first responders.
“Art does not cure, yet it can help us heal. Creativity can offer renewal; through it we can nurture faith in the future,” says Gusevich.
“We hope to provide an environment that will bring people together. The memorial strives to be a place of reverence for the lives lost and the people who honor them,” notes Pirrone.
“We need memorial spaces and artworks to help us appreciate the bonds we share as human beings,” said ArtsFairfax President and CEO,Linda Sullivan. “With such artworks, engagement invites us to learn from our pain and redouble our efforts to lift up each other every day, not just in emergencies.”
The project will require several months to complete, and the project team will reach out to the public at various junctures to meet the artists, engage with the artwork concepts and share experiences.