Original Project Proposal

Summer, 2002

9/11 Memorial proposal drawing

Drawing for proposal. ©2002 Ingrid Lahti.

Bellevue is organizing the 911 Remembrance Project to gather our citizens together in mourning the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and in commemorating the lives lost at the World Trade Center towers in New York City, at the Pentagon, and in the hills of Pennsylvania where the fourth airplane was halted before its fatal mission.

The 911 Remembrance Project, scheduled for September 9, 10 & 11, 2002, will mark the first anniversary of an unprecedented terrorist attack on our nation. Bellevue's final 9/11 ceremony will coincide with a similar ceremony at Ground Zero in New York City. That week the media will give us, over and over, images of the losses and of efforts to commemorate, assimilate, and heal the wounds sustained by the entire nation at that site, Ground Zero.

The process of recovery from trauma, injury, and grief often requires revisiting the original traumatic event symbolically in order to defuse the shock and pain.

Artists attempt to offer audiences the opportunity to make that descent into pain in a supportive, symbolic, communal setting. Offering individuals the support and strength of the community in revisiting the trauma facilitates the healing process for all.

For example, Maya Lin created a wound in the earth of our nation's capital for citizens to revisit their loss and grief and enmity in the aftermath of Vietnam.

Again, when the Butoh performers of Sankai Juku finally returned to Seattle many years after the death of a performer (who died falling from a building in Pioneer Square during an outdoor performance), they recreated the image of that hanging, falling figure on stage in their healing performance at Meany Theater.

The sculptures I propose for the final day and ceremony at the Bellevue park attempt to operate similarly, to use a symbol to safely revisit the 9/11 trauma in a supportive community atmosphere, and to allow the community to personally create elements of the sculptures. In fact the sculptures can only be created by the community working together. The meaning of the art resides in these individual contributions grouped to create the overall whole.

Two sculptures, 30" x 30" x 11' tall, will stand in the shallow waters of the pool in the park. The steel frames (alluding, in material and shape, to the towers and their once seemingly unassailable strength) will be covered with aluminum medallions, each approximately 1.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches long. Each of the 3014 medallions will be inscribed with the name of an individual who perished in the terrorist attacks. The fractured surface of these many clanging medallions will suggest the notion of a building in pieces, like autumnal leaves (or falling papers) whose whispers in the wind and reflections of light evoke all those lost lives.

To create the sculptures, people of Bellevue and adjoining communities will write the names of the victims of 9/11 onto the medallions. This community participation is the soul of these sculptures. The will of the community completes the work; without that will the sculptures will not exist.

In researching and developing this proposal, I felt most emotionally moved when I wrote the names of victims on test medallions. I developed medallions that feel good in the hand. These are the pieces the community will handle. The feeling of handling the medallions and writing the names of the victims on them is important.

The towers will be completed by attaching the medallions to the grid which covers the frame and siting the work in the pond located on the south west section of Bellevue's city park.

The sculpture towers will be reflected in the waters of the pond. The medallions hanging from them will shimmer in the wind and sun and, perhaps, rain. The movement of these 3014 medallions will create a sound dependent upon the wind and weather — all beyond anyone's control.

Our 9/11 Memorial installation will be site-specific, site-dependent, and community-dependent. All these components together will create the experience. The sculptures will bear witness to our nation's loss on September 11, 2001 and remind us of our strengths: our interdependence and interconnectedness. We weather the uncertainty and chaos together.

— Ingrid Lahti, July 11, 2002