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Downtown Knoxville mural painted in memory of lives lost to COVID-19

The City of Knoxville and Dogwood Arts commissioned Kelsey Montague to paint a mural that both honored people who lost their lives to COVID-19 and symbolized the resiliency of the community during the pandemic.
Published: May. 23, 2021 at 8:36 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2021 at 10:33 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The City of Knoxville and Dogwood Arts commissioned Kelsey Montague to paint a mural that both honored people who lost their lives to COVID-19 and symbolized the resiliency of the community during the pandemic. Montague chose to paint a flock of birds.

“All of the birds are different, they’re all unique, and this idea that you can release a flock of birds, just like the souls we lost who are different and unique,” said Montague.

She handcrafted every detail of every feather and beak in under a week.

“It’s been a really hard year and a half and with my art. I always want to give something back and if this is a way to help people remember loved ones and look to the future and create new memories that’s what I want it to be,” said Montague.

Montague is also the artist behind the butterfly wings in Nashville. Mayor Kincannon says she is a big fan of all of her work.

“It lifts us up in the way only art can do,” said Kincannon.

Lifting people up is a part of the hashtag Kelsey is asking people to use when they upload pictures of the mural to social media.

“One of the hashtags for this is “What lifts you?” And even though the pandemic has been a big strain on the community, we have come together. People did food drives. People in our Parks and Recreation department worked with schools when they closed. They wanted to make sure kids could eat. Making sure seniors, who were very isolated, got phone calls, visits, and cards. This community has come together. So even though it’s been a strain, Knoxville responds by uniting,” said Kincannon.

You can check out this mural at World’s Fair park under the Clinch Avenue viaduct.

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