Over the past week there’s been a deluge of media coverage devoted to remembering September 11th. With the art exhibit September 11 — Past, Present, Future, Andrea Arroyo also intended to evoke the tragedy, but she wanted people contemplate the events that took place after that fateful day as well, and what kinds of things may still come.
The exhibition was launched last night, on September 12th, at the Grady Alexis Gallery at El Taller Latino Americano, in New York City. It features the work of 16 artists from the United States, Canada, France, Venezuela, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Japan who each had a different take on the legacy of 9/11.
Arroyo curated the event and was also amongst the artists who displayed their creative response to 9/11. She showed the same piece that garnered her attention in the New York Times in September of 2001 — a silkscreen image of the Twin Towers formed by the repeated word “UNREAL.” Prints of the piece are now in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and several other museums.
That piece of work generated such a positive response that ten years after 9/11 Arroyo couldn’t help but wonder what other artists would come up with.
“I was wondering what was going to happen in the future and what artists were going to create, I always think artists have the ability and the privilege to express their emotions and their opinions, and, in some cases, their political opinions on other socially relevant topics,” she said.
The last ten years have been significant, she added, for reasons tied to but separate from the actual day of 9/11. The U.S. has gone through a financial crisis, is part of two ongoing wars and, although Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed, the threat of terrorism remains.
On the day of September 11th, 2001, Arroyo was in her home on the Upper West Side of New York when she heard the bells of Saint John the Divine ring unexpectedly. It was an unusual hour. She first thought it was a tribute to the murder of Salvador Allende on the same day in 1973. A call from her sister in Amsterdam quickly shed light on the real reason.
For Arroyo, and nearly every person who lives in New York and millions more around the world, the September 11th anniversary was very emotional – more so than Arroyo even thought.
Over the past three years Arroyo has become increasingly interested in artwork that deals with socially relevant subjects. For her, September 11 — Past, Present, Future was a way to get to know socially active artists. Art is a universal language, she said, and it has the ability to foster a dialogue and change the way people think about things.
“Creativity is invaluable in problem solving and conflict resolution and I think we’re in great need of creativity to solve the conflicts that are still with us today,” she said.
September 11 — Past, Present, Future
Curated by Andrea Arroyo.
Grady Alexis Gallery, El Taller Latino Americano, 2710 Broadway, New York, NY
Exhibit dates: September 12-October 10, 2011
Gallery hours: Mon–Thur, 10–6 / Sat. 10am-1pm
Free and open to the public.