New art exhibit displays 200,000 flags representing U.S. lives lost to COVID-19

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — Bethesda-based artist Suzanne Firstenerg is creating art to honor those who have died from COVID-19 in the United States. 

“When words don’t matter, and numbers get too big, it’s my responsibility as an artist to help people experience these numbers and words in a different way,” said Firstenberg.

The artist uses flags to symbolize each life lost to the disease. When Firstenberg reached out to local company Ruppert Landscape to estimate the cost of the project, the company decided to do the installation free of charge. 

“When Suzanne reached out for the opportunity to really make this visual effect come real, we really wanted to jump in and have the opportunity to help,” said Kyle Meissner, brand manager for Ruppert Landscape. 

The exhibit, located on the patch of lawn next to the D.C. Armory, has been a work in progress over the past few days — with a total of roughly 400 man-hours to complete the project.   

“We’ve had crewmen from all different branches help out, from Delaware, Virginia and the Maryland regions,” said Meissner.

Firstenberg says she hopes that the public will come and plant one of their own flags, to honor a family member, or anyone, who has died from the disease.

“Activity and action can be an important part of mourning, an important part of grief. So I wanted people to be able to participate,” she said.

The exhibit serves as a tribute to lives lost — and the personal loss so many Americans have experienced during these times. 

“I want them to look up from that one flag and try to capture the immensity of what we’ve suffered. This is the most tragic event in our lifetimes,” said Firstenberg.

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