Artist Naoto Nakagawa was mixing paint in his lower Manhattan studio when he felt the building shake. Upon learning that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center, he rushed to the building's roof and proceeded to witness the escalating catastrophe that destroyed the Twin Towers, claiming almost 2,800 innocent lives, including hundreds of first-responders.
Just a week before the disaster, Nakagawa had begun his painting, inspired by star-shaped moss he had encountered while walking through a Hudson Valley forest. After September 11, his vision of the artwork was transformed. Now, he perceived the moss as shining stars representing the souls of the victims killed on 9/11, with the subtle but visible horizontal bands of red, white, and blue on the canvas evoking the American flag. By year's end, he reworked his nature study into an elegy for the human toll of the 2001 terror attacks on the United States.
Stars of Forest: Elegy for 9/11, 2001
Naoto Nakagawa (Japanese, b. 1944)
Acrylic on linen canvas; Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, Gift of Alan, Mikenzie, Candice and Dean Ginsberg in memory of those lives lost on 9/11