Library exhibits collages made by students after 9/11
On September 11, 2001, six of our alumni were killed in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. We remembered them shortly thereafter in the pages of Cable magazine, and we continue to do so today, on the anniversary of their loss.
Bearing Witness to History
The attacks of 9/11 disabled the Web server and most of the phone lines at the school, then known as Polytechnic University, and with transportation options severely limited, classes were canceled for days. Still, staff and faculty members able to get to work immediately mobilized, setting up a call center for students trying to connect with their families and offering counseling sessions for those devastated by the tragedy.
Mark Flowers, now an academic advisor to the TRIO Scholars Program, said, “Sometimes engineers are not the most vocal of people, but we realized that everyone needed a way to process the events of that day, if not by talking things out, through some other means.” To that end, the Office of Student Affairs arranged for any student interested to take part in an art project, creating collages that incorporated evocative images and words. “For those having trouble verbalizing their feelings — and those for whom conversation just wasn’t enough — it was a very cathartic process,” he recalled.
Several of the pieces were put in storage and periodically displayed, and the Office of Student Affairs, in collaboration with Dibner Library archivists, recently arranged for them to be restored and remounted in archival frames. An exhibit comprised of 10 of the works is now on display at the Dibner Library, in commemoration of the anniversary of 9/11.
“These are part of the history of our city and our school,” Brittney Anne Bahlman, the director of Student Affairs and Student Activities, explained. “We’ve found over the years that our international students find them particularly useful in helping them understand 9/11. Seeing artwork done from the perspective of someone their own age directly affected by those events is very meaningful to them.”
She continued, “We plan to continue exhibiting these annually, as a way of honoring the spirit and bravery shown by New Yorkers on that day and of ensuring that 9/11 is never allowed to fade into merely a chapter in a history book. That’s going to become even more vital in the coming years, as students born after that date begin to matriculate.”