9-11 series

“About the 9-11 Series” by Linda Puiatti

In the days following the attacks on September 11, 2001, I painted to cope with my feelings. The result was four large canvases titled “Sorrow”, “Anger”, “Hope” and “Fear.” The story of their birth is best told in the words I wrote in the weeks after I completed the paintings:

“Unable to sleep in the aftermath, I awoke each morning before dawn to paint in the studio adjacent to my home. Although my art was usually inspired by nature and beauty, this was suddenly different. In my studio, I listened to public radio while I painted. As a native New Yorker I knew the World Trade Center, the buildings, the subways beneath. I knew its people.

The first painting titled “Sorrow”, recalls an image of the twin towers on fire the day before: billowy smoke with orange flames against a brilliant blue sky. While painting, I heard news that people were still alive in the underground area and had contacted their loved-ones with cell-phones. I was ecstatic. I wanted to help them somehow and so I altered the painting on the canvas to stabilize the structure, to make a way out for the people… to keep them safe until help could come. I think of the time then and how helpless we all felt. This was my prayer for those people.

On Thursday, I painted “Anger”. The painting began with a tinge of nationalistic furor. At mid-day I heard a news report stating that there were people from at least fifty countries killed in the attack. I now saw it as a crime against humanity and changed the focus of the painting to remember all the people, from all over the world, that were lost that day.

On Friday I began to feel as though I, we, could go on again. I painted “Hope”. For the first time since the attack on Tuesday, I felt as though I could somehow continue. It was a tempered emotion. Although the painting is the most colorful of the series, my husband pointed out that it was still hope contained within a box.

Later that day I painted “Fear”. I didn’t know it was about fear when I began, the painting showed itself to me slowly. I was frightened and decided to stop the series at that point.

These paintings reflect my deepest emotions and fears. After completing them, I thought I should keep them to myself. They were so personal, so full of grief, so unlike the pleasant pictures I normally make. But I was convinced that they are something to share. These emotions were felt by us all, all over the world.”

– Linda Puiatti, September 2001


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