This wet-felted work, consisting of six individual panels (three of which are seen here), was created to honor the 1,082 Montgomery County residents who died from COVID-19 between March 19, 2020, and June 1, 2021. The viewer is invited to consider the analogous relationship between deforestation in Ohio and the impact of the global pandemic. Each person lost to COVID-19 sheltered, supported and served as beacons of light for the Dayton community. Birch, known as a pioneer species because it can be found as new growth in areas destroyed by fire, also symbolizes purification and new beginnings. As the abstracted leaf forms — created using natural plant dyes — drift to the ground, the viewer is invited to consider the ecosystems — both literal and metaphorical — on which we rely. When one entity leaves a community, the entire ecosystem is forever altered.
R. Darden Bradshaw is an associate professor of art and design at UD. She serves as area coordinator for art education, teaching all levels of art education courses.