And thus begins the documentation of my first grant journey, thanks to the Illinois Arts Council! The hardest part is always starting, but a great benefit of the grant process is that the bulk of the thinking work is done before the grant is even received! So the idea was already set, to make a book to honor those who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. Due to the extensive thought that needed to go into the project before I even started it, I could start right at the designated beginning date in February.
Currently, my torn sheets of paper, which are each 12″ x 24″, folded into pages that are each 12″ x 12″, are hanging out under this homemade bookbinding press. Because the stack was so large, I opted to just plop this on top of my wrapped and folded sheets, which will be beautifully flat and folded when they are ready to come out.
In the meantime, I began the process of researching each name and photograph I need to include in the book. There were 2,977 victims that day and while this number is certainly shocking, it didn’t dawn on me what this number really meant until I started taking each name, one by one, and matching it with a photograph. Armed with 18 sheets of names, I started searching for photographs of each individual to match the faces.
This research process, which I dedicated nearly 24 hours to in the past week and a half, became a constant ‘Copy’, ‘Paste’ ‘Save As’ and repeat. But in all this research, I came across stories, stories of people who were on their first plane ride, who were expecting a baby within a few months, who were quickly rising in their careers, people we cross paths with every day, people who have lives to look forward to. I now recognize certain faces and certain names that I’ve came across more than once. This is part of the reason I am making this book, we hear the numbers over and over, we understand the enormity of the situation, but I don’t think it is easy to understand the amount of sadness and loss this one day caused. Every single one of those individuals had a family that will never see them again, had friends who lost someone that can not be replaced. The sadness involved with the loss of one individual is enormous enough but on this day, it was multiplied by 2,977.
Now it’s only a matter of figuring out how to get past the restrictions of where a hole punch can actually hole punch… edges. I’ve been playing with the idea of cutting and re-gluing pages, something, that given some more time to play around with, could very well work beautifully! So far, despite the days and weeks I’ve put into this project, I do not have much to show. But soon, I will be ready to get started on the final project, make too many mistakes and scramble to fix them just before my deadline, per usual.
This project is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.