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Crafting Healing: Remembering 9/11

On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of September 11, 2001, we look back on the MAD exhibition September 11: Artists Respond, as well as the reflections of the participating artists and visitors. On view a year after the attack, the exhibition presented sixty-nine compositions measuring an inimate six-by-six inches in scale.  Organized by Crafts America Inc., each square was displayed with text from the contributing artist, capturing personal viewpoints of the nation’s shared catastrophic experience. Some squares recall the proliferation of patriotism in the months following the attack, others honor victims, first responders, and the vitality of New York City.

The single and mixed media compositions of fiber, wood, metal, glass and clay garnered thoughtful feedback from Museum visitors as well, who recorded their feelings in a comment book available in the galleries. A visitor from Norway wrote that “the creativity, the different perspectives [that] the artists shared of themselves helped me sort through my own feelings about 9/11.” A New Yorker shared: “there is nothing like art to express emotion and cleanse.” Consistent in all the visitor feedback to September 11: Artists Respond was the feelings of comfort, healing, and connection in response to the artists’ work.

Powerfully and poetically interpreting responses to September 11, all of the works included in the exhibition are currently in the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design.  Below are a selection of twelve works accompanied by the original reflections from the artists in recognition of this tragic day and its aftermath.—Alida Jekabson, curatorial assistant

Click on the images to access the object labels. 

I remember the morning of 9/11. I had gotten home late the previous evening from a show. I had driven 16 hours that day. I was totally exhausted and sleeping the sleep of angels when my wife, Paige, yelled to me to come look at what was happening in New York. I slogged myself downstairs to gaze mindlessly at the TV only to be shocked fully awake by the unfolding events. Then, as always happens even when I don't wish it, an image came to mind ... effortlessly, immediately, and it sent me scurrying for my sketchpad. The towers as the number, the month, September as the pivot point and the concept of remembrance. It's a blessing and a curse, this role as the artists. Once committed it ceaselessly turns the engines of the mind to reflect the observation of the senses. I just hope that this little invention serves some good purpose.—Thomas Mann

Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families of the September 11 tragedy.

The flag is a symbol of unity, endeavor and aspiration.
The flag is a symbol of freedom, justice and democracy.
The flag is a symbol of equal rights for all and uncompromised civil liberties.

We have woven this symbol using an overlay tapestry technique, inspired by the ideals it represents.Roxy & Tyler Wells

Americans have undergone great transformations since September 11. We feel more vulnerable. In the aftermath, the President, Congress, the FBI, the CIA, the media, and others have been working to make us feel safe again. Attacks have been ordered on Afghanistan. The Anti-Terrorism Act has been passed. Things have happened quickly with little time for questions. This concerns and frightens me. Two documents that seem especially pertinent are the Bill of Rights (especially the First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments) and the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions (especially Part IV, concerning what cannot be done to civilian populations during times of war). I have handwritten the words from these documents onto silk.—Laura Hunter

A brief History of 9/ 11:
We did them a wrong.
They did us a wrong.
We did them a wrong.
They did us a wrong.
We did them a wrong.
They did us a wrong.
We did them a wrong.
They did us a wrong.
We did them a wrong.
They did us a wrong.
We did them a wrong.
They did us a wrong.
We did someone else a big wrong.—Malcolm Owen

The weeks after the WTC and Pentagon tragedies were difficult ones. I found myself crying throughout the day. I cried out of sadness, I cried out of frustration, and I cried out of anger. I also cried from joy upon hearing the voice of a friend we thought had been lost. Through the tears, I still needed to work, but it was so very hard.

The tears come less frequently now - but they still won't completely go away - they probably never will.—Margot Nimiroski

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 have made both of us more profoundly aware of the freedoms we enjoy and hold so dear. We realize that the many who died represent people from all walks of life - firemen, secretaries, policemen, diplomats, janitors, artists, cooks, teachers - of whom we usually take little notice during our daily lives.

We have become vastly more aware of the people around us, in whatever capacity they may function. We are more appreciative of them because we realize that all of us together make up the force that keeps our freedom alive and growing. Everyone contributes toward making our lives richer. They are our everyday heroes.—Felipe Packard & Ricardo de la Vega

I think of New York as my city. Join me for a moment and quietly look at the image of the World Trade Center and honor those lost on September 11th Remember the courage of the firefighters and those who gave of themselves in various ways to help the survivors. Look at the stairs and reflect on how something so taken for granted became paramount as the only means of escape or rescue. The facade of my city has changed, but out of the rubble comes a spirit that will not be broken. A new sense of community has emerged. We as a city and as a nation will triumph. We know we have the fortitude to rebuild.—Patricia Burling

This plaque pays tribute to the generosity and hospitality of the citizens of Newfoundland, Canada, who gave shelter and comfort to thousands of international air travelers stranded there on September 11. Vacationing there on 9/11, I learned how Newfoundlanders opened their homes and hearts to unexpected visitors, most of them Americans. I have knitted a sock because knitting is a popular craft on the island and I particularly love "Newfie" socks, with their many-colored stripes. My colors represent sky, land and water of coastal Newfoundland and the sock is set against a fragment of one of the many watercolors I painted during that vacation. On a personal level, my plaque also represents how I coped with worry and sadness in the days following the tragedy - by knitting and painting.—Risa Benson

Part of "my" New York is now a cemetery so I've created a memorial to the thousands who perished so suddenly and, indeed, "from the top down." The scene consists of a newspaper ad set in a plastic frame, twisted metal at the base represents the destroyed buildings, and the small stones on the top of the gravesite a mark of remembrance.—Esther Davies

"The Hole in the Sky Where God Should Be" asks many questions, some of which we may not want to have answered.—Ken Girardini

This piece, this small offering to the unseen world, is moved into being by the seismic rocking of September 11. It is born of feelings of belief, disbelief and grief - personal and global. It is born of shifting pictures, of the rip in the internal fabric and the web that holds us all - restructuring, reweaving, not knowing. This offering is a weaving of photographs cut and rewoven created with love and respect of Earth, beauty, life and the creative process.—Lynn Yarrington

Rice paper covers wood. The coiled rice papers on top of that represent the persons whose lives were blown away. Instead of draping serenely, they are at an angle to show the abrupt and total disruption of their dreams and relationships.

The rice paper veil on top is to present a mystic atmosphere mixed with sadness over this tragic violence, respect for the loss of many individual lives, and the setback to humanity's long struggle to have a world beyond our roots in jungles and caves.

The title is a promise to try from time to time to find ways to lessen such tragic events, to move beyond the temporary solutions of wars, to the civilization of which we are capable where all humans have true freedom ...—Akiko Sugiyama

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