Chris Bruno of Memphis and Lori Neal of Paris, Tenn. participate in a 24-hour prayer chain at the altar constructed by the art department in the middle of the environmental installat Art students pay tribute to victims - News Release | Union University, a Christian College in Tennessee

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Art students pay tribute to victims

JACKSON, Tenn.Nov. 11, 2001

Chris Bruno of Memphis and Lori Neal of Paris, Tenn. participate in a 24-hour prayer chain at the altar constructed by the art department in the middle of the environmental installation that stretches from 45 Bypass to Pleasant Plains Extended.

Chris Bruno of Memphis and Lori Neal of Paris, Tenn. participate in a 24-hour prayer chain at the altar constructed by the art department in the middle of the environmental installation that stretches from 45 Bypass to Pleasant Plains Extended.

Union University art students are paying tribute to the victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks by holding a week-long environmental installation as a memorial. The installation, which will be on display Monday, Nov. 12 – Monday, Nov. 19, includes 6000 white plastic sheets representing the victims along with 19 black plastic sheets representing the terrorists tied to ropes that are attached to poles which line the circumference of the campus.

While students on other university campuses have held protests, condemning the current war in Afghanistan, these Union students wanted to do something to remember the victims of the attacks, and recognize in particular the spirit of renewed faith which is becoming evident across the country.

Eric Botbyl, a senior art major from Medford, N.J., was one of the students who led the project.

“When it [the Sept. 11 attacks] first happened, we had an art meeting that day which had been scheduled before the attacks,” recalled Botbyl. “All we could talk about though was everything that had happened that day and how small and worthless we felt as artists – we didn’t feel at that point that we could do anything to help.”

Botbyl, who specializes in ceramic sculpture, said that ideas for a creative response to the tragedies were brought up at the art department’s annual fall retreat in late September and “it just evolved from there.”

In the middle of the display, between the Penick and Business Academic buildings, an altar of 12 tons of stone has also been built, symbolizing the importance and strength of faith in times of tragedy.

“We built the altar in the tradition of the Old Testament,” explained Botbyl, who pointed out that the patriarchs would stack stones to form altars when God would do something in their lives. “I was reading in Exodus where someone asks why an altar was being built and they said for future generations who would see it and ask what it was for. That’s really where the visual aspect comes in. This is a visual reminder – it’s not something you can file away on a shelf and forget about.”

The plastic sheets hanging in a line that runs for almost a mile and a half provokes a very physical response when thinking that each one represents a person and in turn a family and friends, said Botbyl.

The memorial environmental installation stretches the length of the campus.
The memorial environmental installation stretches the length of the campus.

During the week, a 24-hour prayer chain will also be held, with two art students at the altar at all times. One will be reading from the Bible while the other prays for a specific victim’s family, the country and the war at large. A worship service will conclude the week, beginning at 6 p.m. on the 19th. Union President David S. Dockery will speak and the Union University Gospel Choir will sing.

“In church last week, my pastor told us that Americans are doing three things – eating more junk food, falling in love, and praying more,” added Botbyl. “It just seems that this tragedy has really hit us on a lot of levels – physical, spiritual and relational and those are the levels we’ve tried to reach with this work.”

 

Large | X-Large
11/12/01 - Chris Bruno of Memphis and Lori Neal of Paris, Tenn. participate in a 24-hour prayer chain at the altar constructed by the art department in the middle of the environmental installation that stretches from 45 Bypass to Pleasant Plains Extended.
11/12/01 - Chris Bruno of Memphis and Lori Neal of Paris, Tenn. participate in a 24-hour prayer chain at the altar constructed by the art department in the middle of the environmental installation that stretches from 45 Bypass to Pleasant Plains Extended. - Cam Tracy
Large | X-Large
11/12/01 - The September 11 memorial environmental installation created by the art department included 6000 white plastic sheets representing the victims along with 19 black plastic sheets representing the terrorists.
11/12/01 - The September 11 memorial environmental installation created by the art department included 6000 white plastic sheets representing the victims along with 19 black plastic sheets representing the terrorists. - Cam Tracy
Large | X-Large
11/12/01 - The art department created a September 11 memorial environmental installation that stretched the length of the campus.
11/12/01 - The art department created a September 11 memorial environmental installation that stretched the length of the campus. - Cam Tracy

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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