One of the best things about being on a sabbatical is a lack of day to day structure which frees me up to make art and do spontaneous things. This, of course, can also be a little alarming because we are all used to having to be someplace at a certain time with certain daily duties, so the lack of this regimen can take some getting used to. I got used to it fast! My husband has been working on the new World Trade Center in New York City for the last year and generally I cannot ever take time off work to visit his projects and see what he is working on, but because I am on sabbatical, I jumped at the last minute chance to fly out and attend an event at the new Visitors Center at the top of One World Trade Center.
What an amazing experience to have the time to walk the streets of New York with no place to be, no deadlines to meet, no grades to post, just time to walk and see all the street art, subway art, and amazing architecture all around.
Having the time to look closely and experience the 9/11 Memorial was an experience I will never forget. Looking into the two voids where the twin towers once stood was a very profound moment for me. Seeing the endless lists of names of the deceased, the water falling into the bottom of the building’s footprints, the tourists taking selfies as they stand near the memorial smiling and posing, the human throb of people all around…..well, it was quite overwhelming when I think of what happened at that very spot almost 14 years ago. I just started to cry. It was very sad to think of the incredible pain and the sadness that 9/11 created, but the memorials to the people that both perished and the volunteers that helped at that time are deeply moving and beautiful. I feel very fortunate to have had this experience while on my sabbatical. I was able to take my friend, Edgar, who is a retired NY Police Sergeant up to the new Visitors Center at the top of the World Trade building before it opened to the public. Seeing his face light up with joy at the beauty of the view and the presentation’s on the New York spirit was priceless, but he also had tears in his eyes at the overwhelming experience of being in a place he volunteered for days at a place where friends and colleagues had died. It is moments like this that convince me that the idea to stop, take time away, experience life slowly and elaborately, was a decision I will never regret. Spontaneity and the ability to take TIME for living is what a sabbatical is all about. I am proud to be an artist able to take time to create beautiful, public art pieces and was proud to see the art created in memory of those we lost on 9/11. The creative spirit renews us and gives us the tools to move forward.