EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Commemorating a tragic event through art

2011-09-04T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD: Commemorating a tragic event through artBy John Cain nwitimes.com
September 04, 2011 12:00 am  • 

If you were alive at the time and old enough to do so, you remember with clarity where you were when you heard that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. I was 9, a fourth-grader at John H. Vohr Elementary School in Gary.

I was 47 when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. I was on my patio in Crown Point removing acorns with a Power Vac. It was a good year for acorns if you were a squirrel. I could hear the news though the patio doors.

At South Shore Arts, we made a conscious decision that we wanted to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and we are doing so with an important photo exhibit that demonstrates the power of art to memorialize history. "New York, September 11th," by Magnum Photographers, is an exhibition of 42 color and black-and-white photographs, photo tapestries, light boxes and a large-scale, freestanding photo triptych. The photos are powerful, heart-wrenching reminders of what happened that terrible day. I find it almost impossible to look at -- but everybody should.

Magnum Photos is a world-renowned photographic co-operative with editorial offices in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo, owned by its photojournalist members. On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 11 members of the legendary agency immediately dispersed from their monthly meeting in New York, literally dropping everything to race to ground zero to capture events as they were unfolding. They risked their own lives to record the incomprehensible. These are the photographs included in "New York, September 11th," by Magnum Photographers.

They capture the destruction of the World Trade Center and the buildings' implosion that sent thousands fleeing from debris through the streets and their exodus out of lower Manhattan. Also documented are the photographers' return to the scene and their observation of the rescue workers, whose jobs had only just begun, as well as for the mourners who had been gathering.

As a part of the exhibit, visitors are invited to record their own memories and feelings regarding this tragic episode in American history. Where were you at the time? What was your first thought? How did you feel? One gallery visitor has written, "As a firefighter, I should have been there."

To give the exhibit a local touch, we invited local artists to submit artwork that was inspired or created in response to the events of Sept. 11. The work is not new work, but rather work that was created at the time, in direct response to the events on and surrounding that day. More than 40 paintings and sculptures are included in this atrium exhibit at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts through Oct. 9. The exhibit was selected by the South Shore Arts Exhibits Committee.

A special commemorative event, including music, spoken word and an honor guard, will be presented in the gallery from 1 to 3 p.m. Sept. 11. The public is welcome to attend at no charge.

John Cain is executive director of South Shore Arts. The opinion is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times. 

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