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Sonya Clark

Healing Memorial Dedicated to SE Mich.'s COVID-19 Victims Moving to New Location

By Maureen Feighan

A memorial that pays tribute to the thousands of southeast Michigan residents who lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic will soon have a new home.

The Healing Memorial, a series of panels each adorned with dozens of handmade pouches in memory of loved ones who died during the pandemic, is moving to the Cranbrook Art Museum from its original location inside the Huntington Center in downtown Detroit. The final day for visitors to see the memorial at Huntington was Sunday.

Conceived by artist Sonya Clark and curated by Cranbrook Art Museum, in partnership with the City of Detroit's Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the memorial was installed in late August 2021. It features 4,000 healing memorial pouches created by metro Detroiters to honor loved ones.

Inside each pouch is a written message, poem or memento of some sort. Similar to Clark's Beaded Prayer project, Clark said it was inspired by African amulet traditions.

"The people represented on this wall ― it's hard to overstate who these people are," said Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, when the memorial was dedicated in 2021. "Detroit has lost a lot. But every person on this wall is also represented by a person who remains here in the city and has come together to make these memorial pieces."

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