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COVID-19 ‘Memory Heart’ sculpture at Emory University Hospital Midtown focuses on remembrance and reflection
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Janet Christenbury

Accessible to the public, the "Memory Heart" pays tribute to all those affected by the pandemic — patients, family members, friends, health care workers and the community.

ATLANTA – A public art sculpture in the shape of a heart stands in the historic Orr Building courtyard at Emory University Hospital Midtown as a remembrance and reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Memory Heart” sculpture, blue in color to symbolize peace, is placed to remember those lost to COVID-19, honor those who survived COVID-19 and celebrate care teams and the community who came together and worked together during the pandemic.
“The ‘Memory Heart’ sculpture honors the resilience, restoration, rebirth and remembrance of those impacted by the pandemic, and it is a time in our lives we will never forget,” says Nicole Franks, MD, chief quality officer at Emory University Hospital Midtown and professor of emergency medicine at Emory. “Those four words are inscribed at the base of the sculpture so we will always remember the difficult days, which turned into months and then years of facing a new normal.”
Nicole Franks

Nicole Franks

Accessible to the public, the piece of art pays tribute to all those affected by the pandemic — patients, family members, friends, health care workers and the community.
In 2021, an idea was surfaced by Emory University Hospital Midtown care team members, and supported by leadership, to create a public piece of artwork to display on the hospital campus. After reaching out to a few artists and receiving several sculpture proposals and designs, team members voted on the designs, and landed on one commissioned art piece as a COVID-19 remembrance.
Artists Jessica Bell and Scott Schubin created the 10-foot-tall by six-foot-wide steel sculpture, which rotates with a slight touch or breeze. Benches surround the “Memory Heart,” allowing visitors and care team members to sit and reflect while viewing the sculpture.
Hospital staff came together recently for a dedication ceremony for the sculpture. Franks and other leaders noted the progress that has been made since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 — from early fears of shortages of supplies, restricted patient visitations and concern amongst the community as a whole — to vaccines, therapeutic medications and ongoing COVID-19 research. Several team members also shared their pandemic remembrances.
Bridget Piggue

Bridget Piggue

Bridget Piggue, ThD, director of spiritual health at Emory University Hospital Midtown, offered this blessing to the care team members:
“As we look upon this ‘Memory Heart,’ we remember the many challenges of 2020 and beyond. We marvel at all we have endured and the ways we have risen. We renew our resolve to work for justice and equity, to strengthen our communities, to reach for the hope and restored health and safety — every patient, every time,” said Piggue.
As the ceremony came to a close, everyone in attendance was reminded to “Go in peace and remember.”

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