New on View: Artwork Rotations in Rendering the Unthinkable

Two framed pieces of artwork from Doug and Mike Starn are displayed on a white wall. The artwork features singed and torn paper that blew out of the towers.
Artwork from Doug and Mike Starn.

Though the 9/11 Memorial Museum’s inaugural special exhibition, Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11, opened in September 2016 the installation continues to evolve.

In December, the Museum removed two artworks from the exhibition and replaced them with new works from the same artists. In order to ensure paper-based works are able to be displayed for future generations, they have a limited life on view. Under our agreement with the New-York Historical Society, the Museum agreed to display the artworks for three months to minimize exposure to the damaging elements.

When the exhibition opened it featured two pieces from artists Doug and Mike Starn. Their work incorporates singed and torn paper that blew out of the towers, across the East River and into Brooklyn on the morning of September 11, 2001. The artists superimposed photographs of decaying fall leaves on the recovered paper. One of the artworks, featuring a charred business card of Geoffrey W. Cloud, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee killed in the North Tower, was removed and replaced with a new piece that incorporates a ripped and charred segment from routine office paperwork.

The exhibition opened with a fiery orange pastel triptych, titled Eternal Rest, from artist Donna Levinstone. We replaced this work with two black, white, and gray pastels that also depict the billowing dust and smoke clouds in the wake of the towers’ collapse. Donna best describes her work, “The smoke cloud that enveloped these people was created by a disaster. Yet, in my drawing a light emerges as a message from above–a spiritual guardian, guiding these souls to eternal peace.”

Rendering the Unthinkable: Artists Respond to 9/11 runs in the Special Exhibitions gallery through January 2018. To learn more about the exhibition, visit our website.

By Molly Wawrzyniak Special Exhibitions Project Manager

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