"9/11 Artists Community's Response" This exhibit was an Art for America benefit. Featuing the work of artists from all over America at the Fulton Street Gallery in Troy, New York. Linder exhibited four paintings from the America series.

Early Dutch traders often crossed the Hudson River at a place just a few miles north of Albany. They called the site Ferry Hook. This was the very first name that European settlers used to refer to the area we today know as Troy. The city of Troy had its start with the Van der Heyden family in the eighteenth century. The Van der Heydens were farmers who owned a large tract of land running along the Hudson River. At first, the Van der Heydens were reluctant to allow settlers and merchants to lease or buy their land, but early in the 1780s, Jacob Van der Heyden realized the lucrative opportunity in leasing plots. He began granting leases to interested parties, and a small community began to grow on the land near the ferry crossing.

Of all the people who have added character to Troy’s colorful past, perhaps none is so widely known as Sam Wilson. A meat packer by trade, "Uncle Sam" became a symbol of the United States seemingly by accident. This man is not remembered for his real-life patriotism, but rather for what his bearded, lanky form has come to represent.

"Unity"

Number 10 in a series.

Signed 2001, 20 x 24 Acrylic on hand stretched canvas.

Private collecton

"Liberty"

Number 12 in a series.

Signed 2001, 20 x 24 Acrylic on hand stretched canvas.

Private collecton

"Empty beds"

Number 9 in a series.

Signed 2001, 20 x 24 Acrylic on hand stretched canvas.

Private collecton

"Weeping Giant"

Number 1 in a series.

Signed 2001, 20 x 24 Acrylic on hand stretched canvas.

Private collecton

Linders tiny art studio in Soho, New York less than one mile from Ground Zero in 2001.
Art of healing redefined by Sept. 11

Galleries display work of artists who channeled their pain into passion

By TIMOTHY CAHILL, Staff writer

First published: Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Jody Pearl had stayed up late painting the night before Sept. 11 and was roused from sleep by a friend calling to tell her about the terrorist attacks. The Albany artist watched the twin towers collapse on her eight-inch, black-and-white TV, then turned to her sketch books.

The attacks ruptured Pearl's aesthetic sensibility for a time. Normally a painter of flowers and still lifes, she turned to creating images of destruction and sorrow based on newspaper photographs. She finished with a suite of four watercolor images that included the World Trade Center enveloped in flames and a firefighter's orphaned son holding his father's helmet.

"It was an emotional experience," said Pearl, whose art was an attempt to fathom the unfathomable. "I cried while I was painting. While I worked, I had an emotional catharsis."

The attacks sent all of America searching for understanding and a sense of mooring, and for artists across the country, the studio became a place to confront pain and restore hope. Some, like Pearl, chose to work directly with imagery of the attacks and aftermath. For others, the events provided not subject matter per se but an emotional context within which to work.

"Just after it happened, for the artists I talked to and were involved with, it was a matter of being paralyzed in a sense, having this deep question as to what value their work had in light of what happened," said Pam Barrett-Fender, executive director of Albany Center Galleries and a painter. "People absorbed it and were changed by it. The mood seeped into the work."

Malta sculptor Sharon Kingsbury, who creates portrait masks of raku ceramic and bronze, experienced a noticeable turn toward what she termed "a dark mood" in her art.

"Something happened in my emotional being that brought forth a series of dark faces," Kingsbury explained. "It looks like destruction."

Her relief sculpture "9-11," a mass of grim, contorted faces, evokes the torment of Dante's "Inferno."

The work is among those in the Fulton Street Gallery's exhibition "The 9/11 Show: The Art Community's Response."

The exhibit, on view in Troy through Oct. 6, features the work of more than a dozen artists from around the country and offers a rich display of the variety of responses brought forth by last year's events. Manhattan resident Joseph Bilger, who lived two blocks from ground zero, created a series of carefully rendered drawings of the activity around him. Houston sculptor Dixie Friend Gay created a series of lifesize ghosts, white-shrouded figures robbed of faces and souls. Norwegian-born Anki King painted an expressionistic 12-foot American flag torn in half to evoke the lost twin towers.

Many of the artists used their work to aid fund-raising efforts for Sept. 11 victims, and this sense of art as an avenue of relief lies at the exhibit's heart.

"This show shows how the arts benefit the community at large, in healing and raising money," said Fulton Street curator Susan Myers. "I think this will be a great learning tool for local students, to see how art heals and impacts the community."

In the same spirit, Greene County painter Ruth Leonard worked with students to memorialize the lives lost in the attacks. During the past school year, she led a group of 30 students at Cairo-Durham Middle School building twin 12-foot pillars for the school's courtyard. The sculpture, made of variously shaped cement blocks printed with images of leaves, flowers, ferns and other natural objects, is intended to create what Leonard called "a place to rest and meditate."

The project gave the group "an opportunity to think about how society deals with major tragedies."

Leonard had a more personal experience while coping in her painting studio. Like Kingsbury's masks, a still life Leonard worked on took a plunge into deep psychological water after the disaster.

"The whole painting took a big turn," Leonard said. "It took on a sense of fragility and a murky quality."

Her painting of mixed vessels and other objects is part of an exhibit at the Foundation Gallery at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, along with work of 15 other artists invited by gallery director Yura Adams to show how the attacks changed their work.

"Artists Respond," which runs through Oct. 11, is an exhibit of complex feelings given many visual forms. After the attacks, Catskills photographer Fern Potash put aside other projects to reconnect with her estranged brother in Hawaii. She hung her images of their reunion in the show. Landscape painter Claudia McNulty turned to painstakingly hand-sewing a series of red felt pincushions.

"I knew I was seeing the world change before my eyes," McNulty wrote in an artist's statement. "While I watched, I felt compelled to sew these soft, pliable things. I took comfort in making something that had a purposeful function -- as I felt I personally never would again. I like the metaphor -- a pin cushion -- it was just how I felt."

New Paltz artist Marcia Clark had a studio on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center in the mid-1980s, where she painted a series of views of city.

"The towers were not beautiful, but they were a magnet on the skyline," recalls Clark in a text panel for "The 9/11 Remembrance Show," an exhibit of four of her New York paintings now at the Albany Institute of History & Art. "I didn't do a single painting of the disaster site," the artist goes on to explain, "although I wonder if it would have helped the mourning process along."

Photography, both still and video, has been the dominant visual medium of Sept. 11. The Fulton Street Gallery in Troy is showing a collection of 50 images from the "Here is New York" exhibit. Its mixture of professional and amateur photographs of the event and its aftermath riveted New Yorkers last fall.

Among the photographers drawn to the disaster site was Albany documentarian Sue Gersten, whose work also is in the Fulton Street show. Gersten made her first of three trips to the site of the twin towers a week after they collapsed.

"What I was seeing on television wasn't real enough for me. I needed to see it. It was a personal thing," said Gersten, who has photographed disaster sites from Auschwitz to Soweto. What she saw at ground zero was even more horrific. "It drained me," she said. "This was us. This was Americans."

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