Art News

A Bright Future for a Boulder Nurse's Vaccine-Bottle Chandelier

The chandelier is made up of 271 vials.
The chandelier is made up of 271 vials. Laura Weiss
Retired Boulder nurse Laura Weiss never thought anyone would be interested in "Light of Appreciation," a chandelier she built from 271 Moderna COVID-19 vaccine vials. But when she shared the project with Boulder County Public Health, which posted a picture of the piece on social media, word traveled fast, and the press started calling.

Weiss, who is also the director of the Buddhist Arts and Film Festival, had come out of retirement as a nurse to help administer the vaccine, and she found inspiration in the discarded vaccine bottles. As the empty bottles piled up, she saw them as a symbol of hope, something that could help stop the pandemic and return day-to-day life back to normal.

"I thought they were beautiful, the glass in themselves and what I saw in the vials, which was hope for a brighter future," says Weiss.

The chandelier is made up of 271 vials. - LAURA WEISS
The chandelier is made up of 271 vials.
Laura Weiss
She asked her boss if she could take the bottles.

"I told her about the idea I had, some sort of light, and it was okay with her, so I brought them home, drilled holes in them and cleaned them out," says Weiss. She found a chandelier base on Craigslist, which helped her solidify the project. "I knew it would be something with light since it had been such a dark year with COVID."

Right now Weiss has the chandelier at her home, where she made it. But soon, more people may be able to see it in person and watch as the Moderna vials and a handful of crystals glitter and shine. She's proud that she's turned something that can be scary into an object of beauty.

Not everyone sees her piece that way, however. Some have even gone so far as to call it the "death chandelier."

"I think it's the trolls that made it go viral, all the negative comments, and then people chimed in with positive comments," says Weiss.

Each vial held around ten doses of the vaccine. Instead of it being the "death chandelier," Weiss says, "I like to think it represents saving at least 1,200 people from dying of COVID."

The chandelier has been seen by over eight million people around the world. Weiss has even connected with Moderna, and says the drug company is currently in talks with the Smithsonian Institution, which has expressed interest in acquiring the piece.

"If it went to the Smithsonian, that would blow my mind," says Weiss. "It would be amazing to have something that started with a spark of an idea and have it make a difference in other people's lives."

After all, she adds, aside from building the chandelier to give thanks to health-care workers, she also made it to show appreciation for those who did get vaccinated.

"It isn't easy," she says of vaccination. "There are unknowns. But those who got vaccinated did it for themselves and others."
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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington