"The Crying Door"
Artist Comment
                                                                                                                                                                            Artist: Richard Nelson


               As a sculptor I feel compelled to create art from objects connected to times that have passed -transform them and release their energies into something new. This piece "The Crying Door" is one such creation.

                                In the weeks prior to the attack on the World Trade Center, I opened a sculpting studio located on the north shore of Staten Island with a view of the southern tip of Manhattan, as well as what came to be known as "ground zero" of the World Trade Center site. When ferry service between Staten Island and Manhattan resumed following the attack I was on board. For those not familiar with New York City, the Staten Island Ferry passes in front of the Statue of Liberty. It was in the predawn hours. The sky was darker then usual due to the massive plume of smoke rising from the World Trade Center site. The passengers on board were silent. In fact the only noise heard was the sound of waves slapping the side of the vessel as we sliced through the dark waters. As we were passing the Statue of Liberty a lone women's voice began rising from the depths of passengers. It was a soft voice but with a sense of determination. She was singing the words to God Bless America. Her voice grew louder as others joined in. Soon the boat was filled with the sound of voices singing in unison as we slid through the early morning darkness. I stole a look at my fellow passengers and saw tears streaming down the faces of many. Few made any attempt to wipe them away. Firemen, military personnel, policemen, construction workers, business people, women and men stood together in the darkness of that moment, in that space in time, sharing a unified emotion that has stayed ingrained in my soul. The voices trailed off into the morning air and stopped as they had started, ending with the sound of one voice quietly fading till it was heard no more. We softly bumped into the ferry terminal dock,  the ramp was lowered and we exited the boat looking straight ahead in silence.

                               I walked the few blocks to the site with a growing sense of anxiety over what I was about to witness and I could feel energy releasing from the earth just ahead. The enormity of the situation. left me aghast as I reached the site. My mind had no reference point on which to compare the magnitude and scope of the pile of smoldering rubble that lay before me. “This could not be” were the only thoughts that filled my head. I had experienced traumatic events in my life before but this was far beyond my capabilities to absorb. After offering my assistance to a worker nearby and being refused, I stood staring at the massive mountain of steel and concrete. Gasps of horror were heard over and over coming from those that were now approaching the site. Anguished screams of "NO, NO", many accompanied with profanity echoed through the streets of lower Manhattan. I wanted to cry and did.

                              Once the churning of emotions subsided I began to move with conviction to the task that now lay before me. I had to create something. Some object that did not exist before, but would now take shape from the rubble I was standing before. It was in there, but where? I navigated the entire site returning to my home in frustration at not having been able to secure the material I would need. A few weeks later I was able to contact a worker that was removing debris from the site and transporting it to Staten Island’s land fill. The Authorities were keeping an understandably tight grip on the materials being removed, due to the fact that the remains of loved ones were still present in the debris and that the site had been designated as a crime scene, prohibiting removal of material. Therefore, materials for the piece of art I envisioned had to come from one of the peripheral buildings adjacent to the site. The worker eventually located some broken wood pieces and a smashed door that lay on the side of the street between the two buildings standing west of the site. The buildings had been damaged by the collapse of the World Trade Center, and the remains of what once were business offices were now left discarded on the street below. When his workday was completed he collected some of those materials and delivered them to my studio on Staten Island.

                 The materials I have used in my sculpture stood witness to the events of that day in September of 2001, and have now been transformed into an expression of that experience as a piece of Art.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Richard Nelson

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