CHICAGO, Nov. 17, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The COVID-19 Monument Commission announces the winner of their global design contest for the COVID-19 Monument of Honor, Remembrance, and Resilience, scheduled to unveil spring 2025 in Chicago, Illinois. Casey Schachner, Assistant Professor of Art in the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art at Georgia Southern University, has won the $20,000 prize. Her sculpture concept features the dandelion flower as a metaphor for the worldwide pandemic experience. Visually, she references the starburst dandelion’s aesthetic affinity to the official CDC renderings of the COVID-19 virus. Metaphysically, her vision embodies beauty through ashes, rebirth, hope, and resilience—seminal emotions which the Commission set out to promulgate.
Professor Schachner earned her BFA in Sculpture from Baylor University and her MFA in Studio Art from the University of Montana. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally, ranging from temporary site-specific installations to permanent public artworks. In 2011, she served as an Artist in Residence at the University of Georgia Lamar Dodd School of Art in Cortona, Italy and in 2012 as an Artist in Residence at the Carving Studio & Sculpture Center in Vermont. She was the 2017 Emerging Artist for Blackfoot Pathways, an International Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Montana. In 2018, she received a People’s Choice award at the Public Art Exhibition on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. In 2022, Schachner was one of three recipients of the Georgia Sea Grant for Artists, Writers, and Scholars program. She currently lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, who was born during the first year of the pandemic. Schachner shared the surreal experience of receiving her first ultrasound during her pregnancy in the backseat of her car. These events contributed to her visceral and personal reactions navigating the pandemic in the early lockdown days and resonated in her desire to create a design for the Hektoen COVID-19 Monument competition.
The competition ran from April to September of this year and was open to everyone throughout the world over the age of 18. A robust social media campaign encouraged the global citizenry to participate, as according to Commission Chair Dr. Sally Metzler, “The pandemic affected us all; it was 100% inclusive. Every citizen, nation, race, & religion experienced the pandemic. Whether at best, lockdown, or at worst, loss of life or loss of a loved-one, COVID-19 left no one unscathed.”
The Illinois Medical District (IMD) (https://medicaldistrict.org/) a special-use urban zoning area of 560 acres in Chicago, has generously donated the land for the monument, which will incorporate a park that will harmonize with the nature theme of the dandelion monument. The site will welcome all to reflect on the pandemic as a collective and individual experience. Incorporated into the park will be tributes to frontline workers of all facets and to those who lost their lives in the pandemic’s scourge.
Embracing over two hundred variegated species, dandelions grow throughout the world, thus the familiarity of the flower, concomitant with the folklore of blowing on a dandelion to fulfill a wish, engender the appeal of Schachner’s design. The omnipresence of the dandelion embodies universality and inclusion. Ms. Allyson Hanson, the CEO and Executive Director of the IMD, cited her enthusiasm for Schachner’s design visually and for the revered medicinal qualities of the dandelion, as the IMD hosts four premiere hospitals in addition to over 40 healthcare and scientific research facilities.
Metzler emphasized the dual nature of the COVID-19 Monument, that of a physical and potent virtual presence. Funding for the monument is a grass-roots effort, and the volunteer-led Commission encourages everyone throughout the world to donate what they can, even $10 will make a difference, directly through the website: (https://
For those who perished, for those who lost a loved-one, for those who have recovered, and for those who courageously and selflessly served during the darkest and most uncertain days of the pandemic, the COVID-19 Monument will mark an event in history that must not be forgotten. Please visit the website to read more and donate today! (https://
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