Friday, July 8, 2011

Seeing Stars

What do Deborah Oropallo, Hung Liu, Lewis de Soto, Eleanor Coppola, Sibylle Szaggars and I all have in common?  We are among the 24 artists invited to participate in the exhibition "Discrepancy:  living between war and peace" which will open Friday, August 5th at the Napa Valley Museum in Yountsville, CA.  I am pinching myself for being included in a show with them.  Plus other California artists I have met during my frequent visits to the Napa Valley - Sharon Anderson, Helen Wilson, Rob Keller, Sue Bradford, Anne Trinca and Alondra Contreras.  I am so excited by this opportunity.  Curated by Nancy Willis, the call asked artists:

to create a visual response to the discrepancy between being emotionally         connected/disconnected to events from which they are geographically distanced.   It is an opportunity for artists that typically do not address political and/or emotionally charged events directly in their work to investigate these events on a personal level that will ultimately be part of a public dialogue. In particular, we are looking to present a view of daily life from the territory between war and peace... Discrepancy is centered on three major events; the World Trade Center bombings and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

 Not my typical work, no.  But a challenge that immediately got my juices going.  I considered the wars and the events of September 11th and imagined what I would want to say about them.  

Ten, One Thousand
Ten, One Thousand
In the end I felt the most connected to my memory from the World Trade Center of people falling from the buildings.  After discussing it with Nancy, who encouraged me to search for information on the internet, I discovered many of the images that were censored in the US of the people who fell or jumped.  It was a difficult but important period for me, the researching the images, the stories and the facts of what happened that day.  And in the end my print seeks to recognize their bravery and bring light to their story.   At least two hundred people jumped or fell that day.  Less than a dozen fell from the South Tower which was hit second and stood for  56 minutes.  The North Tower, hit first, stood for 102 minutes.  People fell from all 4 sides, from right after the plane hit to just as the tower was falling.  No one survived from the floors where people jumped.  No one could save them.  It was a lack of oxygen and extreme heat that drove them to the windows.  

It is hard to read about the conditions and not put yourself in their position.  Observers have stated that those who chose to jump were silent as they fell. The fall lasted 10 seconds.  Not fast enough to cause unconsiousness in the fall.  I have such a fear of high, open spaces that I can't imagine making this choice.   Skydivers have told me that 10 seconds is a long time but it seems a short time when that is all that is left.  They died instantly.  People in the South Tower seeing people jumping from the North Tower immediately began evacuating.  Before the second plane hit 1400 had already left the building.  So in the end they saved many lives by their act of courage.  And as one blogger put it, they chose to die by wind, not by fire.

DISCREPANCY:  living between war and peace
Also included in the exhibition will be artwork made by military personnel in a therapeutic program after returning home of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Pathway Home facility is located near the VA Home in Yountville.  From their website:   "The Pathway Program is a Residential Recovery program specifically created for, and dedicated to serve, our Nation’s “New Warriors”—those of any age who have served our Nation’s Global War on Terror in areas of the world such as Afghanistan and Iraq."
Another innovative aspect of the exhibition will be art writers, who will view the installed exhibit and write essays to help put in cultural and art historical context the work presented in Discrepancy.

I am honored to be in this exhibition and hope you will have a chance to see it.  The show has been extended to October 30th.