Artwork aims to help soothe emotions for both artists and viewers after Sept. 11 attacks

Monday, October 22nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON (AP) _ Ludvic Saleh was working on an abstract painting of water lilies when he heard that two planes had crashed into the World Trade Center.

For three days, he struggled to focus through his anger, sleeplessness and lack of inspiration at his South Brunswick, N.J., studio.

``I started to make a wood sculpture, but I couldn't get the wood to do what I wanted,'' said Saleh, an Egyptian American citizen whose work has been exhibited all over the world. ``So I started painting canvas after canvas after canvas.''

Since Sept. 11, many artists have channeled the nation's fear, anger and frustration into their work; exhibits and events focusing on the attacks are already up and running.

``I'm still working and working,'' Saleh said. ``It's been cathartic. It's a way of releasing my energy and anger.''

Los Angeles-based Poets for Peace has scheduled a series of readings to serve both as a creative outlet and fund-raiser for victims of the attacks.

Artist Mark Del Guidice, of Norwood, Mass., altered a commissioned sculpture in progress for Boston's Forest Hills Cemetery ``to reflect the terror we all experienced.''

The sculpture, ``Moments Eternal,'' is a mahogany bench and four stools covered with hieroglyphics. Guidice swapped the hieroglyphics about nature for ones that dealt with sorrow.

In New York City, a storefront has been turned into a gallery for ``Here Is New York: A Democracy of Photographs.'' The exhibit includes images taken by professional photographers, ordinary people, students, even people who were in or near the World Trade Center when the planes crashed into it.

``It's about what has already happened, and about what will happen,'' said Michael Shulan, one of the four founders of the exhibit. ``And what has happened is not yet explainable with words. Looking at these works ... clearly they perform a healing function. People are moved, even though these are not easy things to look at.''

Sales of copies of the images raised more than $30,000 for relief efforts in just five days.

At the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College, the ``Hope Photographs'' exhibit, planned before the Sept. 11 attacks, features inspirational images such as a butterfly resting on a man and a police officer playing with children on a city street.

After the attacks, museum director Nancy Netzer added in the hallway leading up to the exhibit photographs of Boston College students at the post-attacks prayer vigils. Interspersed among those photos are excerpts from faculty-authored essays about the triumph of hope over tragedy.

``It's a wonderful exhibition in its own right,'' said Nancy Netzer, the museum's director. ``But I think there's no doubt that people come to it with different expectations now, and the works themselves take on a different meaning.''