New York City has a rich history of street art inspired by current events, and that's no less true for the crisis that's currently rocking the five boroughs. Artists have offered their responses to the pandemic by putting up posters, tagging walls and even drawing on curbside trash. But the largest example so far has to be a new 20,000-square-foot ground mural covering an entire parking lot in Queens.
Located in Flushing Meadows/Corona Park between the Queens Museum and the New York State Pavilion, the piece is the handiwork of artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada and consists of a portrait of an ER doctor wearing PPE. Meant to stand in for the tens of thousands of lives lost to COVID-19, the image references a particular individual: Dr. Ydelfonso Decoo, one of the first medical professionals to succumb to the virus while battling the disease. He worked for SOMOS Community Care, a healthcare network comprised mainly of immigrant Latino and Chinese doctors treating patients in marginalized communities. Although the figure in Rodriguez-Gerada's rendering is mostly masked, his eyes are based on Dr. Decoo's.
Rodriguez-Gerada is no stranger to working big: In 2008, he made a similar portrait of then-candidate Barack Obama out of 650 metric tons of sand and gravel on a Barcelona beach, while another of his creations—a 2014 homage to America's diversity for the National Mall in Washington, D.C.—was so large, it could been seen from space.
And speaking of bird's-eye views, check out this drone footage of Rodriguez-Gerada's mural as it was nearing completion. A date for the official opening is TBD, but it’s expected to happen this week or next.