New York (2011) – On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the highly anticipated NATIONAL SEPTEMBER 11 MEMORIAL & MUSEUM opened in New York. The museum will house some of the memorial artifacts of the 9/11 attacks, including a salvaged staircase that was used to escape the fallen towers and the steel beam cross that inspired firefighters. Designed by the architect Michael Arad, the memorial features two 30-foot waterfalls that line the footprint of the Twin Towers and plunge into the earth, invoking a sense of void and absence where the looming towers once stood. The memorial opened to victims’ families on September 11, 2011, and to the public the following day.
While this museum and memorial are perhaps the best-known public art projects dedicated to 9/11, other important work has proliferated. Tribute in Light, by artists Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda, is a set of two powerful lights that are projected vertically onto the sky where the towers stood, every year on the anniversary. The ephemeral, ghostlike beams of light invoke the absent towers and their missing inhabitants as they rise skyward and reach for heaven. Due to funding problems, however, 2011 was likely the installation’s last year.
On a foggy day in June 2010, Chinese artist Liu Bolin created one of his signature “hidden” photos against the New York skyline where the towers once stood. Hiding in the City features Mr. Liu, who is painted from head-to-toe in colors that exactly match the background, standing in front of the Freedom Tower and the spaces where the towers once stood. Liu had never worked in America before, but a “hidden” photo in honor of 9/11 seemed appropriate: Critics have long noted that Liu’s work invokes the people who get lost in cities or countries – individuals who just disappear, as dissidents often do in his native China. The work honors the 3,000 lives that disappeared on the morning of September 11.
A public art project created by the Tribute WTC Visitor Center, in collaboration with the nonprofit Feel the Music and The Battery Conservancy, asked the people who live and work in Lower Manhattan to draw out their feelings about the 9/11 attacks. Throughout the month of July, tables with art supplies were set up in parks in Lower Manhattan and people were given the opportunity to draw or write on small pieces of Mylar. The drawings ranged from expressions of sadness and heartfelt remembrances to anger. “We wanted to give people who live and work in Lower Manhattan an opportunity to think about and share their thoughts as we approach the intensity of the anniversary,” said Meriam Lobel, curator of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center. The pieces, called 9/11 TENTH ANNIVERSARY REFLECTIONS, were woven together by international painter and muralist Tova Snyder into collages hung between poles of bamboo near the site.