After witnessing the Twin Towers fall on 9/11 from a studio just outside of Manhattan, BFA Fine Arts Department faculty member Tobi Kahn was struck by the sense of community that immediately developed within the city as it reeled from the impact of the tragedy.
In a recent New York Daily News article, Kahn describes the unifying effect the national tragedy had on the local area. “No one cared if you were Democrat or Republican, if you were gay or straight. It was like everyone conceptually hugged everyone else.”
It was this solidarity that inspired him when he was asked to organize an exhibition in commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by the art curator of The Educational Alliance, Walter O’Neil. Kahn said, “I wanted to create a meditative space that is not a downer, but which lets people connect in many different ways.”
The result is a multilayered installation entitled “Embodied Light: 9-11 in 2011,” which will be on display at the Ernest Rubenstein Gallery located in the Educational Alliance offices in New York City (197 East Broadway) from September 9 to November 23.
The exhibition is composed of several components. A 12-panel floor composition acts as the centerpiece and is designed to make the viewer feel as if they are looking down at the city from the Towers. Seven candles, seven shrines and brass commemorative plaques contribute to the rest of the design. The final touch is a collection of “memory blocks” that Kahn distributed to a group of individuals in order to create a representation of their view of 9/11. Two hundred twenty blocks in total, one for each floor in the Twin Towers, convey the wide spectrum of emotions caused by the event and were personalized with paint, ink, drills and other creative manipulations.