GRANT #458:

Remarkable Presence

So Many Journeys, So Much To Unpack About The Pandemic

How will we remember what we’ve been through and all that was lost? How can we process the passing of over four million people?

Arizona artist Jen Urso proposes a touching memorial to the thousands of people of her state who did not survive the pandemic:  Remarkable Presence, an immersive art installation and AR experience. Her ambitious goal is to represent each person with a small, paper suitcase. The main exhibit will be at a Scottsdale art gallery. However, public events at multiple locations will give more people a chance to see the exhibit. A unique feature of Remarkable Presence: viewers will be invited to make a piece of the exhibit a physical and emotional presence in their own lives going forward.

One hundred of the 18,000+ suitcase will contain obituaries of Arizonans, presented in pop-up form. If a person agrees, they may receive an empty paper suitcase in order to take on the emotional responsibility of tending to the memory of the life and belongings of the individual represented by the suitcase. Jen chose the metaphor of the suitcase because she knows what it’s like to go through a loved one’s life in the form of their possessions, making difficult decisions about the objects that had been theirs until time ran out.

For each one of the people who died of COVID, these decisions had to be made, literal suitcases packed by those who survived.

The Awesome Without Borders grant will help pay to produce the paper suitcases that will, we hope, be a thoughtful reminder of this journey.