about beyond 9-11

also read:
essay — "after september 11: transforming, connecting, enduring art"
event — American Spirit Day, 9/11/2002: art, drama, readings, music, remembrance

How did you hear the news on September 11, 2001?

For a few months, I re-lived the experience of September 11 with twenty-one Iowa artists, writers, and musicians who were selected for Beyond 9-11: The Art of Renewal in Iowa. From a conversation with a loved one, to a television morning show, to a radio in an Austin, Texas restaurant—no matter the source of the news of the terrorism, these artists experienced many of the same feelings: disbelief, shock, fear, confusion, panic, sorrow, anger, horror, nausea, uncertainty.

Several had lived in or near New York City or Washington at some point in their lives, or currently had family or friends or acquaintances there. Some lost people they knew; more often, their loved ones had close encounters.


For some, the events of that day and the aftermath transported them back to earlier traumas in their own lives and in our country's life—the deaths of family members; the Gulf War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War; assassinations. The grief comes flooding back.

Each artist was deeply affected in his or her own way. And they eventually responded to those events with their creativity.

When I heard about the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs' American Spirit Project grants, stories of the unifying response of people around the country and the world had been displaced by a bombardment of images of American flags, words of simple-minded violence and retaliation from the top echelons of government to the common citizen, images and sounds of destruction and misery here and in Afghanistan. This media blitz left me in despair. When I saw the title of the grant, I hoped to construct a different definition of American Spirit—the spirit of hope and creativity and renewal, of diversity of viewpoints and encouragement of debate, of seeking alternatives. After receiving a grant, in the call for entries, I encouraged new and different images, sounds, words, in the hope of showing this healthy spirit.*


The selected artists and their works have fulfilled those expectations. They provide us with a diversity of backgrounds, creativity, inspiration, and thought as expressed through their creative work and in the personal interviews I conducted in February and March 2002.

Take time to browse the artist pages—look, read, listen—and let the work touch you. I hope you will connect to at least one thing you experience here.

In the hope of greater awareness, understanding, and hope...

Jane Robinette,
Beyond 9-11 Coordinator

* Calls for entries went to nearly 700 artists, writers, musicians, and dancers, as well as to community centers and other venues all across Iowa. Fifty-seven artists from 27 communities around Iowa submitted 105 entries for consideration. Three consultants, one in each genre (Cindy Mercati, Wendy Sontag, and Ellen R.), reviewed and rated the artworks. Twenty-one artists (and 26 works) were finally selected based on the rankings.

Special thanks to Matt, Maryellen, Cindy, Ellen, Wendy, and Jon, without whom the project could not have been completed. Thank you for your expertise and support!