After the Storm sculpture honors victims, first responders of pandemic

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After the Storm
After the Storm, a mixed-media sculpture designed and created by Ohio artist Kevin Lyles, is now on permanent display at the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe. (Submitted photos)

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz unveiled a new memorial honoring the victims and survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the Storm, a mixed-media sculpture designed and created by Ohio artist Kevin Lyles, is now on permanent display at the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe.

DeWine and Mertz dedicated the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove to the heroes and victims of the pandemic in April 2021. The grove was designed by ODNR to provide a peaceful place of solitude for visitors to remember and reflect on the pandemic. 

The sculpture, which stands 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide, reflects the natural characteristics of Great Seal State Park’s hilly landscape. Its foundation is a stainless-steel grid cage filled with locally sourced glacial rock. Its curved lines follow the hollows and ravines of the area, like the park’s trail system. 

Nearly 40 species of birds, such as swallows, gulls, raptors and hummingbirds were included in the sculpture. The natural world is a reoccurring theme in Lyles’ art. He chose birds as a memorial symbol because, for him, they personify how COVID-19 did not differentiate by age, race, wealth, religion or gender. 

As the stainless-steel birds begin rising above the grid, their shapes form a pattern of individual birds in flight. Not only will the stainless steel, which is virtually maintenance-free, maintain its luster but the sculpture will also appear lit by the sun’s natural light throughout the day. As the light changes from dawn to mid-day to sundown, the sculpture will reflect the change in colors of the sky lit from overhead. 

Lyles, who lives in rural southeast Ohio, is a tenured professor at the University of Rio Grande. He has taught art history, drawing, design, sculpture and ceramics there since 1990. He has created numerous large-scale sculptures for public display including Fruit of Inquiry for the Ohio Agriculture and Research Development Center in Wooster, Farmland Forest for the Bob Evans Corporate Headquarters, and his most recent piece, Tranquility, can be seen at the Hocking Hills State Park Lodge. 

Dedicated in 2021, the COVID-19 Pandemic Memorial Grove is a tribute to the Ohioans we have lost, as well as the brave frontline workers who provided daily care and service to all of Ohio’s citizens during the pandemic. It is located near the Great Seal State Park campground.

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