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The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt

In commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, the Museum mounted a small exhibition, The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt in the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education. On September 11, 2011, Museum visitors from all walks of life participated in various special events at the Museum: a lecture by artist Faith Ringgold—who designed the quilt with New York City youth—poetry readings, and a memorial concert.

To document the anniversary and the Museum's role both in remembering tragedy and fostering peace and understanding across cultures, oral historian Liza Zapol created a multimedia piece involving interviews with visitors, a Museum lecturer, Faith Ringgold, and two of the student artists who helped create The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt. The anniversary was a day of reflection and remembrance, and many visitors chose to share and preserve their thoughts and feelings. Zapol's film reveals the role of the Museum as a place for individuals to remember, to contemplate, to seek meaning and solace in works of art, and, ultimately, to come together.

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Faith Ringgold: I'm Faith Ringgold. I'm here at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, very pleased to be part of this ceremony. It's very moving and right on target to be in a house of art, because when we're here, with the art and the music, we're in touch with the best that human beings have to offer, their creativity.

That quilt is magic. And I'm just so happy that I played a role in it. The children did the pictures and they wrote the text. My job was to put that together to make a quilt.

The children came up with those beautiful images of peace. And how they were able to make something that is so beautiful and so peaceful out of something that was so ugly and violent.

Judy Reines: My name is Judy Reines and I live right across the park. I am a New Yorker and I was here on 9/11. Ten years went by very fast. I think of it all the time. I don't have to be . . . you know, it doesn't have to be one year or two years. I think of 9/11 quite a bit. Today was a combination of not just dwelling on the past but going forward and learning things at the museum, but also in memory.

Looking at the peace quilt, I just wish there was peace all over the world.

Jasmine Anna Hope Wilborne: Well, my name is Jasmine Anna Hope Wilborne, and I'm twenty years old. I currently attend Southern Connecticut State University. I'm also majoring in English and minoring in women's studies. I totally feel Faith's call to art and to telling your story. I came here simply to immerse myself in those who have mastered the art of making art and encouraging others to go forth with the message of hope and resilience and strength.

Andrew Keiper: My name is Andrew Keiper. This happens to be my favorite room in all of New York City. And I live far away from New York now. I live in southern Maryland. So I was excited to hear that this was being performed. And I had to come back up to the city on this particular day because I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. The special thing about this room is that it's survived so long, right? And yet has subtly fallen apart, subtly disintegrated. And now it serves this other purpose here in this space for us. And I guess there's a metaphor to be found in its survival, and yet this day is all about collapse and what fell apart.

Craig Moreau: I'm Craig Moreau and I'm here at the Met today to read poems inspired by Faith Ringgold's 9/11 quilt.

"Children covet the wax crayons they draw with. In the village, tiles hang on a fence, yellowing. The kids age, a quilt is made to show this. A tourist takes a picture and asks, 'Where were you?'"

Carolyn Halpin-Healy: This is the 11:00 gallery talk on peace, reconciliation, and collaboration in art. So follow me through Greek and Roman and we'll head downstairs to the education center.

My name's Carolyn Halpin-Healy. I'm a lecturer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and have been teaching in a whole variety of programs here since 1991.

For the next hour, we'll look first at The 9/11 Peace Story Quilt. And then we'll think about this theme of peace and reconciliation. And we'll think about collaborative processes in art making. And we'll go throughout the collection and look at art from a number of different parts of the world—from Europe, from the Middle East, from Africa. But we begin right here in New York City.

So, let's look at this work and try to get a sense of what the students are saying to us.

It's really about halfway through, in the middle of the second panel, that it changes from memories of the September 11 to the question of what we will do for peace. So it's all about transformation, isn't it? It's all about, how do we move forward? How do we transform tragedy into hope? How do we transform sketches and memories into art?

Murad Awawdeh: My name is Murad Awawdeh. I'm twenty-four years old. So, my piece is the Earth with the peace symbol within it and the sunflower growing out of it. At the time, in 2001, I was only fourteen years old. And thinking back about it now, I would have never thought it would be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum. At the moment, I was just drawing and not speaking because so much had happened after September 11, with hatred against Arab Americans. It was quite a difficult time in my life. I saw people attacking my mother just for wearing a veil or harassing my sisters in school because they were Muslim. You know, it's sad to say now that ten years after, Islamaphobia has ran rampant across the United States.

Leah Romero: I'm Leah Romero. I am twenty-one, and I grew up in Washington Heights, 161.

My connection to the peace quilt was it was basically something that I did with a group of other kids in New York. And it's just, like, amazing how far it's come. I feel really strongly connected to it. As a little kid—I was thirteen, fourteen—the only image that came to mind was peace in New York. That's what I wanted. I wanted there to be complete calmness and tranquility in the city. I wanted people to be happy, so my desire for the picture was just to have a shining sun and to have it peeking off of the Empire State, and then the towers still standing, and just spelling out "peace."

Viewing the quilt, seeing it there on the wall, it feels like such an accomplishment because we really did this as a team, as a community.

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