Thoughts on September 11th / by Jeannine Cook

The passing of years since September 11th, 2001 has brought so many changes around the world that one can scarcely put oneself back in the frame of mind of that time. I suddenly remembered a painting that I did to deal, in some measure, with my own emotions after the Twin Towers fell and so many people perished in such frightful fashion. I had loved the brashness of the Twin Towers when we lived in New York. Taking visitors up to the top of the world, as it felt, on the top viewing deck, was so utterly New York in its drama and strange combination of elegance and a technological defiance of nature.

It seems that artists dealt with these events in a multiplicity of ways, many working on sculptures and pieces some years later. I found allusions to many of them again today in Tyler Green's blog at Modern Art Notes. In some fashion, the responses had to do with the degree of connection to New York, I think, and also, of course, the degree of political involvement of each artist. Personally, I painted and drew my piece about a month after September 11th, really before the Bush administration became, in my opinion, out of touch with many of the more admirable aspects of the American Constitution.

As a European, I had always been very aware of the legend of Manhattan's streets being paved with gold. Purple is also the colour of deep mourning in the world I know. Violets often signify faithfulness, watchfulness and modesty. Faithfulness to duty and cause, as far as the firefighters and police and other responders were concerned, watchfulness too, and modesty, in a way, for all those people who were going about their daily business in the Twin Towers... I tried to combine these aspects with the island of Manhattan, the flight paths of the various planes and then the unimaginable debris of the fallen towers.

It was strange to pull out this painting and look at it again today, but perhaps this, of all days, is the day to do so.