Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Tree of Life - WTC

The seventh anniversary of 911 is upon us and I want to let go of some memories. A lingering thought of some lost artwork that touched the artist in my soul years ago lives on in my memory. As I have written here and elsewhere I did not directly lose a loved one on September 11, 2001.

Like a lot of us shell shocked New Yorkers from 911, whether we knew someone who died or not, there are memories that take a little longer than others to resurface to the forefront of our attention.

Before I try to put my pen down on this subject of 911, let me share something of the human spirit and expressed in art and lost on that fateful day seven years ago.

I remember walking up West Broadway from Vesey Street behind the Post Office there before 911. I walked there back in the eighties to swing past some large decorative artwork that adorned the east, street level, facade of the former 7 World Trade Center. This red granite facade or bas-relief was a cover for a downward driveway into the building from the rear on Barclay Street. (See above.)

For the longest time I would use the Internet and try to find an accurate listing of all lost artwork in connection with the destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists. There are not many lists and they all seemed to be connected with some other tangent besides the WTC such as corporate ownership, or individual placement within the complex and so on.

I kept looking for the listing and name of the artwork noted above at 7 WTC. I could not remember if the decoration had a name and an artist.

What I had done was give the artwork a name in my head. Since it looked like a abstract Tree of Life, I gave it an exotic name that the tree of life is called by some primitive and possibly extinct tribe in Borneo – they called their Tree of Life by the name of “Aping”.

So into my brain went the reference to a dead work of art called “Aping”.

A tree of life, the WTC, a major artery of life in lower Manhattan got taken out, roots and all, that day seven years ago.

I find it ironic that there is not an easily accessed list of lost artwork at the old WTC. Whereas I am certain there are statistics down to the last square and cubic inch of the present real estate development thing going on now at the site of the old World Trade Center.

Art touches the soul of mankind. I hope some suitable artwork that touches upon the interdependence of all nations in this new global economy and global culture will be represented amid the profit plums and skyscrapers going up at the new WTC - to replace lost works of art from that infamous day.
- Hopefully this universal themed artwork, like the theme of the Tree of Life, will be near the planned memorial to the dead of 911.

The Tree of Life is at the base of legends and mythologies all over our planetary histories, cultures and geographies. The Tree of Life myth symbolizes fertility, growth, endurance and immortality.

The old WTC lives in my memory. Memory is the most important place for any living memorial to the dead and lost on that day seven years ago.

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