49—A Monumental Art Installation Honoring LGBTQ Pride and the Pulse Victims
On June 12, 2016, our community was rocked by the deadly Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando that claimed the lives of 49 people -- most of them young, LGBTQ and Latinx. This year, to honor them and to mark Pride Month, HRC, in partnership with internationally renowned artist Megan Geckler, will transform the exterior of our headquarters into a large scale work of art. The installation will have dual resonance, celebrating the pride and unity of our community while also paying tribute to those who lost their lives. The first illumination of the art installation is planned for dusk on June 9, following the alumni and staff reception. The art will remain on the building through the month of June.
This monumental tribute, 49, uses 49 white fabric strips to represent the lives lost in Orlando. They are encircled by a rainbow structure, referencing not only the LGBTQ movement’s iconic flag, but also the LGBTQ community’s continuing embrace of those taken during the violence at Pulse.
“The gaps within the rainbow signify those we’ve lost, and contribute to the transformative nature of the artwork. The viewer’s perspective changes as they explore the project, and as the artwork transitions from day to night, aided by integrated lighting illuminating the center,” said Geckler. “In its powerful simplicity, 49 is meant to create a safe space for mourning and healing while simultaneously evoking the diversity, unity and strength of the LGBTQ community.”
Last year, in the days immediately following the Pulse attack, HRC transformed its headquarters into a tribute, installing images of the victims in our front windows. The eight-story composite carried the message "We Are Orlando," and drew thousands who came to mourn, seek comfort and pay their respects.
Our hearts, thoughts and prayers remain in Orlando and with the survivors, and the families and friends of the 49 sons, daughters, siblings, mothers, fathers, friends and loved ones lost that day. We are Orlando. And as we mourn, we also recognize that in the face of adversity, our community always rises, together.
For two decades, Megan Geckler has been refining her process of making large-scale, site-specific artistic interventions within architectural examples. Geckler experiments with off-the-shelf construction items, lifting them out of an easily recognizable context. She repositions these humble materials within sprawling artworks that allow them to transcend their primary and utilitarian functions.