Daily California COVID-19 Deaths

by LARA MYERS AKA LARA’S LAB
Published: May 11, 2024 (3 weeks ago)
Contact For Pricing

The first two images together represent 8 weeks of deaths in California from COVID-19. The first image is 4 weeks of deaths from January 24, 2021 to February 20, 2021 and the second image is 4 weeks of deaths from February 21, 2021 to March 20, 2021. Each sheet of paper towel represents one day. Each roll of paper towels is one week. Each spherical stitch represents one person in California who died from COVID-19. The installation begins with the first death in California in February 2020 and stops when the Public Health Emergency ended in May 2023. The third image shows a comparison between the statistics presented on 8 stitched rolls and the same statistics highlighted on a bar and line graph.

I spent the entire pandemic working on an embroidery installation that illustrates the daily California COVID-19 death numbers in a way that I hope communicates the statistics in an unusual way that is more impactful and easier to understand than the usual bar or line graph. When we went into lockdown, I had just been displaced from my apartment due to a flood, and I had no access to any of my art supplies. So I had to improvise with what I could find in the Airbnb where I was staying: rolls of paper towels, thread pulled out from an old Ikea towel, and a needle borrowed from the host. The only other time in my life when I was on lockdown was when I had chickenpox in 6th grade. My mom bought me an embroidery kit of seashells and that is when I learned how to stitch French knots (for the grains of sand). I used that stitch in this project because its spherical shape is a perfect reference to the shape of a coronavirus virion. 

Each spherical knot represents a Californian who passed away due to COVID-19. Each paper towel sheet is one day of statistics. Each roll is one week of statistics, starting with Sunday at the bottom, going up to Saturday at the top. Weeks progress from left to right. Each roll is 7 feet tall and 15 inches wide. The weeks begin with the first California death in February 2020 and will end with May 2023 when the Public Health Emergency was declared over. The current installation size requires at least 150 feet of wall space, ideally in a room that allows all four walls to have rolls installed on them so the viewer will be surrounded by statistics. 

I am actively looking for venues that have enough space to accommodate such a large installation. If you have any suggestions for venues or organizations that would be interested in this project, I’d love to hear your ideas. You can reach me (Lara Myers) by email at kikorocksout@gmail.com, or simply slip a note under the door of Lara’s Lab, Studio # 19 at Art Works Downtown in San Rafael, CA.

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