I’m taking a break from looking at protest art and propaganda today to look at a unique display of art (still political) with a far more positive message.
In New York City, there exist two “Tiles for America” displays, created in remembrance of September 11, 2001. These hanging tiles are patriotic, touching, inspirational, and heartbreaking all at once. Although the two displays now consist of thousands of tiles and ceramics of all shapes and sizes, they had small beginnings.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, crowds gathered in large numbers in front of Saint Vincent’s Hospital located at the corner of 7th Avenue and 11th Street. This hospital received thousands of survivors, and hopeful relatives crowded outside the building once news of the event had spread.
In an effort to create an inspiration for recovering victims in the hospital, Lorrie Veasey (owner of OUR NAME IS MUD, also located on 11th street), began to create tiles with messages of hope and courage.
From raw clay she fashioned approximately 5000 small angels and American flags, which she and friends attached to a fence that faced the hospital on September 14. Upon being released from the hospital, many victims took a tile home with them. Others were taken by mournful relatives as consolation.
Word of the tiles spread within the art and pottery world, and within weeks, “Paint Your Own Pottery” studios across the nation were joining together to create tiles that would reflect messages of peace, unity, courage, and hope. Through this creative outlet, the nation was able to honor the brave men and women who lost their lives on September 11.
One tile expresses the exact purpose of the displays:
“These tiles reflect the thoughts and feelings of people across the U.S.A. in response to the events of September 11. Artists of all ages and backgrounds express their emotions here.”
Currently, more than 6000 tiles hang on chain-link fences at two different sites: the original site outside of St. Vincent’s at the intersection of 7th Avenue and 11thStreet and a second at the Tribute WTC Center on the southside of Ground Zero.
For an up-close look at more of the tiles, watch this video: