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Creativity After 9/11

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

We talk with musicians, artists and arts administrators about the challenge of creating art in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Guests include Daniel Felsenfeld, one of the composers behind the upcoming Music After concert, and Nancy Schafer, executive director of the Tribeca Film Festival. And, we open the phones to find out how 9/11 changed your creative life.








Daniel Felsenfeld and Nancy Schafer

Comments [14]

Alex from NYC

Why aren't the relatively few WNYC comments on Soundcheck screened adequately? The comment by the below troll should have been removed by now. Leonard Lopate himself trawls the comments left on his segments after he goes off the air! Don't you folks at SC have an intern or two who could spend 5 minutes a day doing this for Soundcheck too?

Sep. 07 2011 02:47 PM

the fact that some country artists of a certain political persuasion, found it all too easy, to not exercise any restraint,in writing right after 911; and, gratuitously politicizing the event,has disturbed, though not surprized me.

Sep. 07 2011 09:48 AM
Chris Giarmo from Brooklyn, NY

My first day of college at New York University was September 11, 2001. I was studying Drama at the Experimental Theater Wing and witness the attacks from Washington Square Park on my way to my first studio class.

Now I primarily compose music for and perform in theater productions, but am currently working on my first solo album. I've never composed or created anything in direct response to 9/11, but the experiences I had on that day and the days to follow have had profound influence on my art. 9/11 made me a New Yorker. It forged a connection between myself and the city I have since called home. I write music as a New Yorker, and constantly marvel at the beauty of it's structures and the profound generosity of its residents - themes that often appear in my work for my new album.

I don't know if this sensation would have eventually arisen in me, but the events of that day expedited my New York citizenship.

Sep. 06 2011 10:33 PM
Joe mangrum from San francisco on 9/11 now in Brooklyn

The ability to have instantaneous communications worldwide yet "insufficient memory" to prevent such a tragedy

Sep. 06 2011 10:32 PM
Eileen Gunning from Wingdale NY

I live about 75 miles from Manhattan "upstate". I happened to be home that day and watched the disaster. As the day ended I realized for the first time what "art" actually was all about. While I always considered myself an artist, it was not my profession. I could never justify the time effort, energy used to "make" art. But that evening , sitting and meditating and praying, I realized that art makes us human, allows us to become more, and in that spirit I felt compelled to build a sculpture expressing that connection to the soul of humanity in our desperate grief and loss.

Sep. 06 2011 09:13 PM
A.M. from NYC

Just once, I would like to see an artist who presumes to "offer" those who survived 9/11 (survived it from whatever distance) address his or her own motivation for undertaking to perform this "service." No such gesture can be devoid of self-interest. Even if an obvious appetite for personal gain (whether material or status-related) is genuinely *accompanied* by some degree of altrusim or perhaps by a less fraught desire to connect with others or oneself, the truth is that desire for gain of some kind cannot be separated from such artistic "commemoration" and similar efforts. There is a huge elephant in the room, and just once I would like to see this uncomfortable presence addressed. Wouldn't Soundcheck be a fascinating context in which to explore this issue, especially after the 10th anniversary has passed? I was 10 blocks from the towers, by the way, when the first plane hit. I don't take this suggestion lightly.

Sep. 06 2011 02:55 PM
dave from Brooklyn/tribeca

fhp presents:
the Brooklyn pilgrimage
12+ bands for 12+ hours
live @
uncle mike's
57 murray st 
doors open 3pm
music from 4pm-4am
$5 admission - all profits go to 
fealgood foundation first responder charity
firefighters get their first drink for free!
wetwater, modiri, usayusa, japanic attack, lowery, dr beam and the semi-acoustic mayhem, starlight girls, the golden age of transportation, fake babies, arlen andrews, the itchy hearts, and more tba!
come hang out,  have a drink, listen to some of the finest bands in NYC, coalesce, support, and remember

Sep. 06 2011 02:41 PM
Brian Quinn from New York City

I arrived to NYC for college (studying Jazz Performance at The New School) in 2000. New York was an amazingly fertile scene at first, with people spending freely and going out often. After 9/11 (which I experienced from my dorm 3 blocks away in the financial district), there was a noticeable shift in the subconscious of the city that seemed to bring many artistic opportunities and explorations to a halt. Clubs closed, institutions struggled, and some never recovered. It by no means ended artistic expression and production, but there was a necessary and undeniable change for the entire city. Only in the past few years have I felt that spirit and explosion of arts really start to bounce back, perhaps due in part now to the growth of new technologies and interconnectivity. It's hard to imagine where we would be today if 9/11 had not happened, but it's clear that any forward movement and freedom is coupled with the ever present reality of the new world in which we live.

Sep. 06 2011 02:38 PM
Marc from Flatiron

I was working as an actor, but could not see the value of this after 9/11. I lived only blocks from WTC. I volunteered for the first week before deciding (in what I now know was pts) to drive cross country to be with the girl i loved. I abandoned my acting career momentarily. Several weeks later I realized, "now, more than ever - I need to create from this experience." I wrote a few short plays and planned to perform them. The production ultimately failed to mount. Today, I feel more connected to the emotions of that time then I remember feeling when it was happening. Perhaps I have grown as an artist and am learning what it means to truly feel...

Sep. 06 2011 02:32 PM
charles maraia from NYC

I'm a professional photographer, shooting beautiful interiors, and weddings for magazines. It all began to seem trite and unimportant. My photography has changed drastically since 9/11 and is more sincere and meaningful.

Sep. 06 2011 02:31 PM
Liz from NYC

As a writer, I never thought I would actually write about 9/11. It was taboo. And then, I wrote a screenplay (which currently is in development with Roadside Pictures and Cyan Pictures) called "Everything's Going To Be Alright." I thought it was about an internet date and how it changes two people's lives, but a development person who read it soon after I wrote it, said how wonderful it was to read to read a love letter to NY, and how I wrote about 9/11. This was the last thing I thought I did. But without actually referencing it, somehow I addressed the sense of loss, that sense of 'what do we do with what's left?' in a way I never had before. And I guess it will always be there now, even without me knowing, I will always be writing about IT. Like all people we try to make sense of meaningless tragedy. Artists however, have to make meaning where there is none. And I'm grateful that's innate, that wasn't taken...

Sep. 06 2011 02:30 PM
Ana from Manhattan

As a Location Scout for motion pictures and independent filmmaker, the events of 9/11 had a huge impact on my work. If it was already difficult to have access to people's homes to take photos. The attack made it even worse. The moment people saw a camera, they would get suspicious and somewhat upset. There were a number of questions to answer. We were coming back from a stop in film production and these only made it worse.

Sep. 06 2011 02:28 PM
Vinny_G from Upper West Side NYC

As I learned to appreciate classical music in my
30's, I focused on all the String Quartets I could find, and I sorted them by date. In this, I noticed an extreme change going from post-romantic, pre WWI through to the end of that war into the period immediately after. As I observed the change I heard it as a shift to a violent and strident discordant and rather unpleasant a-melodic attempt to express the vast carnage and destruction that a newly mechanized war machine had created. I then began to see the same kind of radical exploration in the visual arts as well.

Sep. 06 2011 02:19 PM
Maude from Park Slope

As with everything, I felt a huge gulf between artists in NY and outside of NY. As in "how can anyone who wasn't in NY have the nerve to make art about NY during 9/11" or "anyone who wasn't there wouldn't understand this piece"

Sep. 06 2011 02:11 PM

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