It is a daily practice learning to live with memories of the Sept. 11 terror attacks for New Yorkers who lost a loved one or saw the collapse of the Twin Towers.
A new exhibition at the National September 11 Museum & Memorial offers an interpretation from 13 New York artists who personally witnessed or were affected by the World Trade Center’s destruction that killed almost 3,000 people.
The artists’ work reflects on the tormented hours, days, months and even years that followed. The artists use video, painting and sculpture to illustrate the devastation that kept some of them muted for years.
“It was years later in 2007 that it finally percolated to the surface,” said Gustavo Bonevardi, 54, of Greenwich Village. His painting gelled when the white and gray layer images of graphite turned into images of the papers that floated throughout the city when the towers collapsed.
The floating papers are “beautiful, elegant and free almost as if they were souls and memories” of those who died, said Bonevardi, who grew up on Greenwich Street and watched the construction of the Twin Towers.
Another exhibit is a four-minute video that shows a woman’s hands scrubbing the ash and debris from a white FDNY uniform shirt that belonged to the artist’s father who came home after working the pile at Ground Zero for three days.
“I felt so many things scrubbing that shirt — the terror, fear, guilt, sadness,” said Colleen Mulrenan MacFarlane. The scrubbing sound of the brush in the video becomes background noise to the radio dispatches of first responders — one voice saying “body parts.”
Tobi Kahn, 64, who grew up in Washington Heights, said: “I use to love going to Windows on the World with my father and look down at the city. It looked magical.” As an artist he took those memories and used thousands of scraps of wood accumulated over the years to build a floor relief. It gives a bird’s-eye view from the south tower — a three-dimensional depiction of roofs that form a block grid.
“It looks like a beautiful city of blocks ... I wanted to remember the fact when you looked down from the towers one felt the power of that time,” Kahn said.
Christopher Saucedo’s painting, “World Trade Center as a Cloud,” painted on handmade linen pulp paper captures the blue sky that greeted New Yorkers that morning but later turned into a shroud of gray. A floating image of the Twin Towers ascends into the heavens. Saucedo’s work is dedicated to his brother Gregory Saucedo,, an FDNY firefighter who died in the north tower on 9/11.
The art exhibition is “a moment to catch our breath,” Bonevardi said. “It takes a while for events to settle and to be able to reflect ... I don’t know if we ever process it. It just becomes part of life.”
The exhibition opens Sept. 12 and runs through January 2018.