Liz Cenedella

Aftermath, September 11, 2001

All photos © Drunell Levinson. All rights reserved.

My experience of the World Trade Center tragedy was horrifying and immediate. On that beautiful clear morning my husband and I were having coffee on our small roof terrace on Canal Street in Manhattan, a short distance away, when we heard the first plane pass overhead, incredibly loud and fast, and subsequently heard the crash into Tower #1. My stepson David, on his way to work, emerged from the subway underneath just after that, and managed to run to safety to our house. We, as a family, were all so lucky not to be touched personally by the death of anyone we knew. However, the deaths of thousands are still inconceivable, both here and in Washington and Pennsylvania; and the bravery of passengers and the hundreds of rescuers unbelievably moving.

My quilt was inspired by many thoughts: the tragic loss of life of people of 80 nations, not just our own; the senseless destruction of property and the disruption of the infastructure of New York, especially; the complacency and arrogance of our nation in not recognizing our own vulnerability; and the incredible contrast of the cultural values between Afganistan and the United States. I used photo transfers taken from newspapers and magazines and friends, small flags from the United Nations, tie-dyed leather to indicate Ground Zero, star buttons and black sequined stars, a hospital mask, and fluorescent fireman tape. I found a necktie for sale on Canal Street depicting our Flag superimposed on U.S. money of all denominations. A large American flag was cut up and appliquéd together with all the various elements. The image of the burning flag has a dual meaning: the first amendment right to free speech (dissent) and the damage to our nation. The juxtaposition of Disney images with Afghan and Trade Center images intends to illustrate cultural differences. Since the completion of the quilt, I still am haunted by certain of these images, especially that of the person jumping to his death. I often touch the quilt just there.

Creating this quilt and being part of this project has helped to heal in a small way the enormity of this tragedy.

Liz Cenedella          

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