Interactive art project on National Mall honors COVID-19 frontline workers

The word ‘hope’ will be spelled out in 8-foot-tall wooden letters and covered in colorful quilts by D.C.’s Smithsonian Metro station on Saturday to show gratitude for frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s part of the COVID-19 U.S. Honor Quilt project, where everyone is invited to add their own art.

“I feel it’s time to honor and thank our frontline workers from the medical personnel to the delivery people to people at the grocery store. Those who are really risking their lives and their health during our COVID pandemic for our benefit,” said Diane Canney, the project’s creator.

She also wants to remember those who have lost their lives to the virus, and bring hope to the nation as we wait for a vaccine.

Canney — who co-owns Sunset Hills Vineyards in Purcellville, Virginia with her husband — came up with the idea for the quilt project while talking with her 95-year-old mother Phyllis Liedtke.

Liedtke told her daughter, “For my birthday, I want you to do something about the pandemic.” Once Canney devised a plan, it was Liedtke who created the first quilt panel.

Those who visit the “hope letters” on the National Mall between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday will be provided with art supplies and a 10×10 inch piece of fabric to draw on. You can also choose to craft a design at home, and submit it online.

“This project is for everybody. You don’t have to have any artistic skill,” said Canney.

“Each panel that we get, from all the people who submit them and create them at home, will be assembled into larger quilts.”

Canney called the effort: “A sign of unity and togetherness that we can do one person at a time to kind of make people feel better during this time in our country.”

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Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

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