Retired Boulder nurse Laura Weiss never thought anyone would be interested in “Appreciate the Light,” a chandelier she built from 271 Moderna. COVID-19 vaccine vials. But when you shared the project with him Boulder County Public HealthPublishing the photo of the news on social media, the news spread quickly and the press began to search.
Weiss, who is also the director, Buddhist Art and Film FestivalShe had come out of retirement as a nurse to help administer the vaccine and found inspiration in discarded vaccine vials. When empty bottles piled up, he saw them as a symbol of hope, something that could help stop the pandemic and bring daily life back to normal.
“I thought they were beautiful, what I saw in bottles that in themselves are glass and hope for a brighter future,” Weiss said.
The chandelier consists of 271 bottles.
He asked his boss if he could get the bottles.
Support Denver’s independent voice and help keep Westword’s future free.
“I told him about my idea, some kind of light, and it was fine with him, so I brought them home, drilled holes and cleaned it up,” Weiss says. He found a chandelier base on Craigslist that helped him solidify the project. “I knew it was going to be something light as it was a very dark year with COVID.”
Right now Weiss’ chandelier is in his house, where he made it. But soon, more people will be able to see it in person and watch as Moderna bottles and a handful of crystals sparkle and shine. She takes pride in transforming something that might be scary into an object of beauty.
But not everyone sees part of it that way. Some even went so far as to call it the “chandelier of death”.
“I think the trolls who made it go viral, all the negative comments, and then people interrupted with the positive comments,” Weiss says.
Each vial contained approximately ten doses of vaccine. “I like to think it represents saving at least 1,200 people from dying from COVID,” Weiss says, rather than being a “death chandelier.”
The chandelier has been seen by more than eight million people worldwide. Weiss even contacted Moderna and said the pharmaceutical company is currently in talks with the Smithsonian Institution, which has expressed interest in acquiring the part.
“If he had gone to the Smithsonian, it would have blown my mind,” Weiss says. “It would be great to have something that started with a spark of ideas and made a difference in other people’s lives.”
After all, he adds that in addition to building a chandelier to thank healthcare workers, he also did it to show gratitude to those who got vaccinated.
“It’s not easy,” the vaccine says. “There are unknowns. But those who were vaccinated did it for themselves and for others.”