On the somber 10-year anniversary of 9/11 I thought I should post a couple of 9/11 related images I have done. The first illustration went with a story published in the Contra Costa Times a month or so after the horrific terrorist attacks. It went with a story about how we are coming to terms and coping with the terrible events and images of that day. I contrasted a linear portrait of a woman, head bowed, with an abstraction of the twin towers.
The second illustration went with an A&E cover for the Contra Costa Times on how the Arts have been impacted by 9/11. I painted a stage with Hamlet raising a sword, twin lights beaming down from above against a backdrop of the ruins of the twin towers. This published a year or so after 9/11.
The third illustration I painted to go with a story on athletes that have a fear of flying…even though they have to fly on planes to competitive events. 9/11 made this fear more daunting to overcome. After 9/11 I think all of us had to deal with a fear of flying in one way or another. In this painting I tried to portray the emotional conflict and fear the person had to confront. Lines connect different cities he has to travel to. Dramatic lighting, a shadow of a plane and hand lettering for the headline echoed those feelings.
Looking back on these images now, I see that I was also coping with the 9/11 events in my artwork.
We heard the news as a family midway through President Obama’s speech. In shock I couldn’t believe it was actually true that the the architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States had been killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan. Bin Laden was not hiding in a cave in a remote area of Afghanistan or Pakistan but in a mansion / compound in the city of Abbottabad. As we watched we told my two girls ages 9 and 12 to watch history in the making. My girls tried to soak it in and make sense of it, comparing our reactions to what Obama was saying. Both girls wrote eloquently in their notebooks to record their thoughts. My youngest wrote this: “…when we start(sp) to watch Obama say that Osama Bin Laden is dead at first I thought it was bad. My dad cried and my mom shouted, “What!!!” I asked my Mom is this good? “Yes, listen to Obama speak. I cried…”
As an artist I created this graphite, watercolor and pastel sketch to mark the moment visually. The idea popped into my head almost immediately. I thought playing with a quick line drawing and X-ing out the eyes…an old cartooning symbol to show death… could be powerful contrast. I painted the background with a watercolor brush and added some pastel texture all in blood red. The Xs on the eyes I made by using my index finger…the act was intense and emotional. Of course I’m probably channeling somewhat the famous Hitler X-ed out Time magazine cover from 1945 or the more recent Parada illustration for Time of Saddam. Those paintings X-ed out the whole face.
Rather macabre to create an illustration to note of the killing of someone. I have to say when President Obama said that “justice has been done” I cried, thinking of all of the lives lost on 9/11 and since. I usually work on Sunday nights….it was a tough day for a journalist to be off on furlough from my news job for the Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune newspapers. I felt compelled to make the artwork and post it. I have to say that the world is much better place without the evil of Bin Laden in it. Interesting note I heard on MSNBC, the killing of Hitler was also announced on May 1.