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9/11 peace qult Faith Ringgold and young New Yorkers (ages 8-19), The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt, 2006, Fabric and acrylic, Three panels, 72 x 50 in. each (approx.), Commissioned by the InterRelations Collaborative, Inc. (Photo courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Finding Comfort in Art

The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt on display in New York

By Fred Hechinger | null null , null

New York City is preparing to mark the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Events are planned all over the city — from memorial services at Ground Zero, the site of the Twin Towers, to concerts and performances at theaters across the city.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is also part of the citywide remembrance with their exhibition of the 9/11 Peace Story Quilt. The quilt was created by artist Faith Ringgold and students from New York City as a way to understand and deal with the tragic events of 9/11. It will be on display at the museum until January 22.

After the September 11 attacks, a group of children from all over New York City tried to capture the tragedy of the Twin Towers by making posters. The posters were part of a project organized by the InterRelations Collaborative, a non-profit organization that studies ways to reduce conflict, often through art.

The children drew images of what happened and illustrated stories of how 9/11 affected them. Ringgold took these drawings and incorporated them into three large quilts that tell the children's experiences of this devastating day and its aftermath.

There are 12 panels on each of the three quilts. Surrounding the panels are the words, "What Will You Do For Peace? Impact of 9/11 on New York City Youth." That's also the title of a book that shows the writings and drawings the kids made.

"My heart was filled with joy," Ringgold writes in the book's introduction about the first time she saw the kids' artwork. "What a beautiful collaboration, a perfect response from New York City's young people, aged 11 to 19. This gracefully poetic account of that frightening day in their young lives is a gift of sensitivity and love. I was amazed at their generosity of spirit. I found the paintings and expressive verse in the book deeply inspiring."

Leah Romero was one of the children who made the posters. She is now a college senior at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

"It was just a bunch of kids filling out what they felt about the event," Leah explains. "Eventually that became the posters, and then that became the book, and that eventually translated into the peace quilt."

Leah says that the drawings and quilt play an important role for both creators and viewers.

"It's therapy for them, for the people viewing the artwork," Leah explains. "It can make them, not necessarily feel better about what had happened on 9/11, but feel like they have a connection with other people who also went through the same tragedy that they had gone through."
   
Leah is now majoring in illustration and says that the project helped her to realize that she wanted to be an illustrator. She says that it "really geared me towards what I wanted to do because it became a passion for me. It's what I love doing right now, which is why I'm an illustrator."

And now, after all the work, the story quilt has ended up in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"I was a little kid just drawing, messing about," Leah says. "And now it's actually in a museum, which is unfathomable to me."

9/11: TEN YEARS LATER

The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania with the 9/11: Ten Years Later Special Report.

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