Ground Zero Reborn

I spent much of my studio time in the early months of 2017 working on a new art quilt that I have titled Ground Zero Reborn. The idea for the piece came directly from a visit that I made to the Ground Zero site in Manhattan in early November 2016.

The financial district of Manhattan has always been important in my life as my parents met while working on Wall St. and my father worked for an investment firm for his entire career. After 9/11, I visited the Ground Zero site whenever I was near New York City. I remember peering through plywood walls in the early weeks, years later standing in line for hours to gain admittance to the reflecting ponds and finally on this last visit walking down into the Memorial museum.

In the weeks after my November visit, I realized that something had definitely shifted for me. I had gained some perspective and perhaps some reassurance that whatever was thrown at us as a country, healing was possible with time. I have no doubt that my feelings of hopefulness were due in part to the choice of white marble for the interior of the massive Occulus transportation hub which lies on part of the Ground Zero site as well as it’s amazing roof design that reminded me of a bird taking flight into the future.

Photo of the Occulus building taken in November 2016 from the memorial ponds.

My new art quilt, Ground Zero Reborn, reflects my perspective now, in 2017, on the Ground Zero site and the journey of the site since that fateful day. It does this through three separate but joined art quilts.

The lowest quilt in the grouping, Remember, speaks to the horrible carnage and destruction of that fateful day when the towers came down. It is essential in my world view that we never forget horrific world events caused by mankind and that we learn from them so hopefully they will never be repeated.

The middle quilt in the sequence, Respect, honors the nearly 3000 victims of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 and 2/26/1993 as well as all those who risked their lives to help save others. It underscores the important place of respectfulness in modern society. It is my fervent hope that in paying homage to those who lost their lives, we will be inspired to commit to living our own lives at a higher level as we have the privilege of life.

The top quilt in the group, Rebirth, acknowledges the steps forward that Manhattan has taken to rebuild and revitalize its damaged community and population. I see in the image the spirits of those lost on the site soaring to the heavens. The piece truly embodies my hope that we will learn from the past and work towards a future without violence.

The three art quilts that are Ground Zero Reborn were created using multiple fiber techniques as appropriate to each quilt. Much of the stitching was done by hand with care and loving thoughts for those that lost their lives on the site.

A Feeling of Closure

Closure:
A sense of resolution or closure at the end of an artisitic work.
Definition in Google.

I have been working fairly intensely on a project for the past two months that revolves around the Ground Zero site in Manhattan. I revisited the site last November and wrote about it in a post on this blog. As I wrote in that post, it was not my first visit to the area but this last visit was meaningful in that I began to see past the horrors and the sadness  and to recognize new life or rebirth in the area. It was that experience that prompted me to create an art quilt that captured my perception of this transformation.

I am still in process on that work and documenting the steps in its development on my Facebook artist page. I realized though this past week that I had reached a turning point in my process – from design to mainly execution.   It created a true feeling of closure that I promptly celebrated by cleaning my studio whose floor was covered with fabrics and sketches. I will save you from what my studio looked like ‘before’ but here is a peak at the after. You may not think this is very ‘open’ so just imagine every place where there is carpeting filled with piles of paper and fabric. 🙂

That large case that you see is for my new Bernina 765 machine that I purchased a month ago to celebrate my birthday. I had decided that 2017 would have a mantra of ‘simplify, simplify’. I have owned an 830 for many years, along with the embroidery attachment that I simply could never get excited over. My 830 was finicky…….it did a beautiful job of free motion quilting once I had the tension just right. But, I had come to realize that my needs were simpler than an 830. My 765 sews for me instantly, whenever I need a straight seam. And, when I want to quilt with it, it does so without any objection. I am in love with it and wondering why it took me so long to change.

Getting closure on projects has proved quite simple with my 765. And so, I retrieved my UFO Aspen III that I wrote about last year and finally faced and labeled it. As a result, I am pleased to be an early bird for the 2017 SAQA Auction.

                                                         Aspen III

I am looking forward to finishing my Ground Zero quilt and moving on to other projects. Hope that you are all moving forward too!

 

 

 

 

Rebirth happens

No day shall erase you
from the memory of time.
Virgil

virgil

Quote greeting you as you descend to the floor of the museum.

I spent the weekend after the U.S. election immersed in the Ground Zero neighborhood. In the end, it was an uplifting trip. The events of September 11, 2001 are etched in the beings of most Americans who were alive on that day. Having grown up in New York City with parents whose lives revolved around the New York financial district, the horror of that day pierced me deeply. St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center, which waited on alert that fateful day for the injured that never came, was a mere block from my grandmother’s apartment.

Over the years, I have visited the site many times…….weeks after the attack, I peered through fencing at the wreckage. As years passed, I followed the debates over moving forward with what was surely hallowed ground. Eight of the sixteen acres were used to create a park where the footprints of the destroyed buildings hold reflecting ponds with waterfalls that are lined with the names of those who died either on that day or in the earlier attack on the trade center.  I visted those ponds when they opened to the public.

This time I had tickets for the 9/11 Memorial Museum which now stands on the site. I confess that as I traveled down into the museum proper I grew increasingly nervous. As images of the two towers still standing abounded, I needed to stop and breathe a bit. There were tears in my eyes for over half of the time I spent in the museum – I think after that I was numb to the sorrow of what I was revisiting.

And then, for me, it was over. Back above ground with thankfully beautiful fall weather, I spent the rest of my weekend wandering the neighborhood that now surrounds the site.

Some of the buildings were present in 2001. St. Paul’s Chapel stands across the street from site. Only one window pane was broken during the attack and for nine months the church served as an oasis with services for those working at the site. These days tourists wander in and out of the chapel. The Bell of Hope rests in the chapel grounds. It was gift to NYC from the city of London  and has been rung every year on the anniversary of 9/11. It is a peaceful place.

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“Bell of Hope’ on the grounds of St. Paul’s Chapel with Freedom Tower in background.

This was my first visit to the area since the Occulus has been completed. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the hub not only is an embarcation point for over 250,000 daily commuters but a tourist mecca of shops and restaurants, all in a massive white open space. However, it is the roof design that is magical. It reminds of wings of a dove, rising from the depth of ground zero, carrying hope for our future.

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Inside the Occulus

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Oculus roof rising from the reflection ponds of Ground Zero.

The theme of openness is carried into other complexes being built in the neighborhood. Brookfield Place is a complex office, restaurants, and high end stores that complements the WTC site. Outside the complex, one can see in the distance,  Ellis Island, where so many of our ancestors first set foot on U.S. soil. It is a good reminder of how our country has always been built upon diversity.

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View towards WTC from inside Brookfield Place

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View of Ellis Island from harbor edge

By the end of my visit, my spirit did feel uplifted. What happened on 9/11 will forever remind us of the horrors that human beings are capable of; what has been created in the years since in the area reminds us both of the goodness that was manifested that day by victims and survivors and the courage and commitment to moving forward positively that is the bedrock of this nation’s being. That bears remembering after this election season!!