9/11 -USF Art Installation

Each year, across the United States, there are countless commemorations of the horrific and traumatic events of September 11, 2001, when both the Pentagon and World Trade Center Towers were attacked. These ritual acts have provided communities an annual moment of reflection of the evil humans are able to inflict on others. But they also have given us the chance to transform a national memory of death and destruction into the yet untapped potential of the human collective. Though human-imposed disasters have the explicit ability to sow seeds of hate, they also have a regenerative power to heal and even reconcile.

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For fifteen years, physical remnants of that day were lying dormant in Hanger 17 of the John F. Kennedy International Airport, pieces of the two wrecked WTC buildings. After years of efforts working with the Port Authority of New York City, in July 2016 the University of San Francisco Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice (JSSJ) was able to procure two boxes of metal artifacts from the destroyed buildings. Along with sculptor, professor, TED fellow, and Guggenheim fellow Raffael Lomas, we are transforming what has been a representation of America’s worst nightmares into its ultimate dreams.

Lomas and a select group of USF faculty and students are partnering with individuals and families connected to the 9/11 attacks in order to -- together -- physically and metaphysically transform vestiges of the WTC buildings into a living sculpture. Combining living trees with human-made metal, this art installation will be a symbol of the growth and strength that can be reincarnated from that which we previously perceived as lifeless. Using this medium, we will show how just as trees can bear the mark of their past while continuing to grow, we humans are able to continue to live and grow despite, or perhaps because of, our most traumatic of scars.