Seen from Above
Seen From Above -
A Place for Contemplation
Created to offer an environment to reflect on the events of September 11.
Commissioned by MTA Arts for Transit.
Vanderbilt Hall, Grand Central Terminal
July 19 - August 19, 2002
To the west, the Hudson's wide green expanse is layered with receding shapes that fade into a hazy sky. To the east, Brooklyn's jagged shoreline spills forward into the East River and is topped by a stretch of cloud-mottled cobalt blue. These were typical views from the World Trade Center before September 11. All who worked in the Towers experienced these views — breathtaking for their astounding height, the magnitude of the image they framed, and the vibrant city that lay below — as part of their daily routines.
These scenes were first captured by visual artists in 1997 when the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council established World Views, a program under which the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey provided 10,000 square feet of raw, vacant, windowed office space in Tower One for use as studios for artist residency programs. Art can play a role in helping us heal, and so MTA Arts for Transit worked to create this installation to offer an environment that invites reflection on the events of September 11. In December 2001, MTA Arts for Transit was introduced to the work of Daniel Kohn, a landscape artist in residence in Tower One during 1998-99. Kohn's work provided a central idea around which to create an environment for contemplation.
To bring this room to the public, Arts for Transit entered into a collaboration with Kohn. He recently created the two paintings hanging here in Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall, reconstructing the stunning views from his sketches, paintings, and observations during his residence in Tower One. Initially, Kohn's work was an investigation into the rhythms of the city as seen from above — the still peace of the water, earth, and sky; the vertical force of the Tower and its long, narrow windows on the cityscape below; and the multiplicity and movement of the landscape.
Since September 11, these views exist in a context of horrific loss and destruction. They mark an irrecoverable past. But at the same time, these paintings give us a glimpse of the vitality and spirit of the world once thriving within the Towers.
Seen from Above