The National Mall in Washington, D.C., recently got a makeover, courtesy of local artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg.
Firstenberg, in an effort to express the sadness she felt for all those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 over the last year and a half, created a stunning art installation with over 670,000 white flags, which symbolize each person who lost the battle against the deadly and highly contagious virus.
In an interview with NPR, Firstenberg explained that she first began planning her installation back in March of 2020, when the COVID-19 virus was just beginning to have an impact on people in the United States.
She said that she was “disturbed” by the debates over whether or not it was better to keep the economy running or implement restrictions to curb the spread. She then went on to say that she felt someone should do “something to make a statement” because so many people were dying and deserved to have their lives remembered.
In the fall of last year, Firstenberg set up her first installation near RFK Stadium. At the time, she placed 267,080 flags. Since then, the COVID-19 death toll has nearly tripled, which means there’s a need for more flags and a larger place to arrange them. Enter the latest installation on the National Mall, which is titled “IN AMERICA. How could this happen…”
When asked about the installation’s expansion, Firstenberg said that there was “no hesitation” when she received the opportunity to arrange flags on the National Mall. She felt a strong need to move forward with the project, especially because so many of the COVID-related deaths happened to people who were isolated from their friends and family.
The exhibit will be open to the public until October 3, 2021. Those who want to see images and clips of it can also follow Firstenberg on Instagram.