In the days, weeks, months, and even years after 9/11/01, many of the children I saw in therapy turned to art to express deep feelings of fear, trauma, sadness, anger, and healing related to the tragedy. Shortly after the attacks, the NYU Child Study Center began to collect children’s artwork created in reaction to the tragedy. The submissions resulted in a book, The Day Our World Changed: Children’s Art of 9/11 (Robin F. Goodman and Andrea Fahnestock, 2002). On the first anniversary of the attacks, the Museum of the City of New York mounted an exhibition of jury-selected work from the NYU collection. The 9/11 Memorial Museum recently acquired some of the works in that show.
Cover art by Andrew Emil, 11 years old. Memorial. “My father worked on the 106th and 107th floors of the WTC Building Number One. Luckily he wasn’t there.”
The book is beautiful. (You can probably tell that it’s well-loved by its dirty cover.) It contains 83 works by children and teens ages 5-18, as well as essays by mental health experts, historians, artists, teachers, journalists, and religious and political leaders. The children’s work, though, really needs no words. Here are some of them. Those that are unclear will be clear if you click on them individually.
Charlotte Lockhart, 14 years old. Untitled.
Kitwana Carr, 17 years old. Untitled.
Pearl Newman, 12 years old. Disaster 911. “It was a very sad day for America.”
Quinn Taylor Kelley, 6 years old. In Bed Dreaming. “This is me in bed dreaming my mother is in smoke and fire.”
Joshua, 9 years old. Children’s Guernica. “The Children’s Guernica’s relation to Picasso’s Guernica is that I wanted to show how disgusting war is.”
Talal Jaradat, 10 years old. Doomsday.
Annie Mak, 17 years old. Osama’s Toys. “The painting of Osama eating the Twin Towers would be helpful to understand the anger put over America and symbolism.”
Tamara Obradovic, 9 years old. America Is Crying.
Alex Marroquin, 13 years old. How I Felt On September 11th. “My picture shows the WTC attack on 9/11/01. It shows the first building on fire and the second about to get hit.”
Merica Noel Suga, 11 years old. Nervous.
Nesita Abreu, 9 years old. Untitled.
Ewa Podgorska, 8 years old. Fireman.
Ryan Anders, 8 years old; and Henry Corcoran, 8 years old. Untitled. “I feel sad because dogs have sacrificed themselves for other people. And their tails got squashed and their ears got cut off.”
Isabel Glatthorn, 8 years old. Sparkly Spots Proud To Be An American. “Dalmations help people to be found and cheer up the Fireman. He’s an American, too.”
Vivian Ng, 16 years old. Firefighters Standing Strong. “The firefighter represents all the heroes of this event. His sadness is shown by the tilt of his head. However, he still holds the flag with honor and pride. The flag represents the nation’s strength as they overcome the tragedy.”
Babul Maih, 17 years old. Empire Fallen. “This painting shows the towers…falling from the sky.”
Catherine Ormaeche, 17 years old. Untitled.
I love this untitled series by Kevin Wang, then 8 years old, which speaks of trauma, hope, and healing.