A Rose is a Rose is a Rose

On March 14, 2020, New York State saw its first COVID-19 fatalities, there were two. Over the next seven weeks, the number rose to 24,035. The lockdown was a reality that saw no end. As fatalities in New York continued to rise in unfathomable numbers, I wanted to do something that would commemorate those lost to the pandemic and also comment on what that number would look like in a visual form.

Several ideas merged at the same time. As a textile artist, the process of weaving is a documentation of time, as one works row by row, almost as if breathing in and out. Flowers are symbolic of various rites of passage from birth until death and the state flower of New York is the rose, in all its forms and colors. Rose motifs are found among traditional overshot weaving patterns and these overshot patterns were brought to North America by immigrants and extensively developed by individual hand-weavers to become a truly American weaving expression.

As the US quickly topped the world in coronavirus cases and deaths, it seemed fitting to weave roses in a weave structure that gained a place in history once it came to the US. I began to weave the number of New York State COVID-19 fatalities as individual rose pattern motifs, one rose for each person who had passed.

When I began this series, “A Rose is Rose is Rose,” in June of 2020, the number was 32,350. By March 14, 2021, that number had risen to 48,475 according to the New York Times Coronavirus Map & Case Count from which I gathered the data. I have documented one year of the pandemic from March 14, 2020 – March 14, 2021. The finished dimension of the entire work is 46 feet long by between 8 -13 feet tall in 25 panels.

It was my hope that the beauty & history of the weave structure, the simplicity of the black & white, and the enormity of the work would come together and show the number of COVID-19 deaths in New York State to be more than just an abstract number that we became immune to. This work is dedicated to all New Yorkers who have and will die of COVID-19.