In the first months following the destruction of the World Trade Center I didn’t paint at all. It wasn’t until the anniversary of the event that I finally realized that I needed to deal with it as an artist.
I never paint to communicate ideas. This painting is no exception. I painted it because I needed the catharsis. I needed to go through the process. So this post is not about what I am trying to say with the piece, but rather what went through my mind as I painted it – what it said to me.
I watched the towers grow on the New York skyline from our house in New Jersey. I was in, under, and around them many times. They were a magnificent representation of what the human race is capable of. We can reach the sky. Sadly, we can also destroy just as effectively.
Imagine if we as a species took the energy and resources we spend on destruction and put them towards reaching the sky and beyond. We are truly capable of anything.
“Everything has changed” was a catch phrase at the end of 2001. Naturally it became a superficial cliché used by the media in trite commentary, but on a deep often unnoticed level, I believe it is true. Our leaders, afraid of the potential of this change, have decided to fight it in the way they always have, through fear and violence. It is up to the rest of us to embrace it with beauty and love.
For me, this painting speaks of the potential rising like a phoenix out of the horrible beauty of those destructive moments. Images of the towers have been excised from our culture, but images of their destruction are still used to inflame our baser emotions for cynical ends. The stories of heroism and transformation are drowned out by the trumpets of war. The coming together we felt in the aftermath, both as Americans and worldwide has all but evaporated in our jingoistic rush to blame and punish. There was an unprecedented opportunity in that pile of rubble and smoke. We all felt it, we all saw it. It is still there. Let us seize it before the myopic policies of the old power structure trample it.