NILOU MOOCHHALA: Reflecting on our Pandemic Experience

Nilou Moochhala
2021, meditation flags
ACAC’s spring Artist-in-Residence Nilou Moochhala has created a 2-part public art installation exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the community of Arlington. For Menotomy Rocks Park, Moochala has shaped an inviting space for peaceful reflection and healing.  She suspended 100 drawings transformed into colorful meditation flags in a beautiful grove of pine trees.  Fifty of these flags were selected from the 365 abstract drawings that Moochhala made during a daily practice started during lockdown; fifty were made this spring in response to the stories of diverse Arlingtonians.  Moochhala interviewed leaders in town government – the Town Manager, Fire Chief, Robbins Library Head of Circulation and a Select Board Member.  She reached out to front-line workers, teachers, medical professionals, local business owners, public housing residents, and inventor/entrepreneurs. She talked to the new parents of a “pandemic baby,” middle-school and college students, working parents and retired seniors. Some of the stories she heard were heart-breaking, most were inspiring accounts of community service, resourcefulness, and resiliency.
For Arlington Center, Moochhala has paired quotes pulled from some of interviews with the drawings inspired by her conversations.  Hosted by the Kickstand Cafe, this installation was developed for a busy, sociable gathering place.  The artist hopes people will pause, read the flags, and reflect on what they, and the town, have been through in the last year.
All of the interview material collected by Moochhala will be donated to the Robbins Library COVID-19 archive, where it will be preserved as part of a collection intended to document this unprecedented time.  It’s not too late to share your story — the artist has set up an online questionnaire here. Please take a moment to use it as a writing prompt to record your history into Arlington’s history!

Menotomy Rocks Installation

Arlington Center Installation at Kickstand Café

Thanks to our supporters

This Artist-in-Residence project was generously supported by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the Grants Committee of ACAC.