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The Remembrance Drawings

The Remembrance Drawings began as a reaction to the events of September 11, 2001. My initial plan was to make two tower-like drawings, each made of many small drawings. I was struck by the number of eyewitness accounts that mentioned large quantities of paper drifting from the sky. These drawing are my mediation from a distance. They are both intimate and impersonal.

The first images I drew were of bones and empty chairs, things that came to mind as I though about families with missing members. As I proceeded with the drawings, the initial concept seemed too limiting. Once I began to think about the need for remembrance, it seemed that the events of September 11 were a powerful starting point, but that we all have much more to bear in mind – as individuals, as families, as cultures, as religions, as nations, and as human society.

The base of each drawing is black Sa paper put together to make a stele or a marking stone. The small drawings were created to underscore the “story” of each piece. I purposely included no images of any specific disaster, since we have all seen too many images that will never leave our minds.

The text written on each piece is a reference to the millions of words said, broadcast, written, and thought about unspeakable events. There is too much information – it is overwhelming. Therefore, while the text is readable, there is too much of it and it is written in black ink on black paper. The texts for each piece are organized around a theme or central story. For example, the text for the drawing, East of Eden, begins with the story of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden as found in Genesis. The other texts written on the drawing are from the Qur’an, the Acaranga Sutra, the Illustrated Dictionary of Symbols in Eastern and Western Art, The Wonder That Was India, and articles from the Bangkok Post and The Nation.

The use of text with images embedded within refers back to illuminated manuscripts. The gold in the letters is meant to echo the use of gold in sacred texts, yet after I had finished I was amazed to see that the gold appeared to like small windows lighting dark buildings.

These drawings were completed during an intense period of three months in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I was living at the time, and were first shown at U.S. Consulate there.

No one is free from the task of remembering.
Remembering is the task of the “innocent” and the “guilty” alike.
What we need is a way of remembering that can be meditative, not divisive.