HonorHealth, which operates multiple hospitals in Arizona, apologized for their offensive COVID-19 sculpture that was revealed on Friday. The sculpture showing a Chinese dragon wrapped around a medical worker holding an orb was first called out by reporter Justin Lum, reports AZ Central. Backlash ensued and the sculpture was taken down and an apology was issued.
“As a proud Asian American, I can’t interpret the meaning of the statute any other way. This piece of ‘art’ is negative and divisive. The sculpture associated the COVID-19 virus with the Chinese dragon — a powerful symbol in our culture, now appearing to be some sort of villain,” Lum told AZ Central. “Displaying this statue is dangerous because it allows the scapegoating to continue. Shifting blame to Asian Americans once again and the (Asian American, Pacific Islander) community has already experienced this for more than a year. It comes off absolutely tone-deaf as incidents of hate against the AAPI community continue across the country. Diversity matters”
The sculpture was created by HonorHealth orthopedic surgeon Vincent Russo in dedication to all the medical workers during COVID. It was unveiled at the HonorHealth Scottsdale Shea Medical Center on Friday. During a speech during the unveiling, Russo said he used a dragon to “depict the origin of the virus,” while the “healthcare heroine” holding the orb represented all the medical workers who fought COVID. The orb represented “the spherical form of COVID-19, however, it may also represent a Pearl of Wisdom,” the tribute right below the sculpture said.
“The Chinese dragon with its looming form represents the location of where the first reported cases of the virus were discovered,” the tribute said.
The sculpture was met with applause by the audience and it was announced five duplicates would be displayed at HonorHealth’s five other hospitals.
However, by Saturday the sculpture was gone and an apology was issued after HonorHealth was called out for their tone-deaf and offensive piece.
“It has come to our attention that the symbol of the Chinese dragon was interpreted negatively among our Asian community, and we would like to share a sincere apology,” HonorHealth said in a statement. “Just as we do not turn any culture, race or religion away from being treated at our hospitals, we should not want to discriminate toward anyone in that same light. Therefore, at this time, we have removed our social media posts and the sculpture is no longer on display.”