World Views

Artists at the World Trade Center, 1997-2001

  • View of Manhattan from the 91st Floor of 1 WTC / photo: Yigal Nizri

  • Studios during the Winter 2000 session / photo: Yigal Nizri

  • Studio circa Spring 2001 session / photo: Yigal Nizri

  • Studio circa Spring 2001 session / photo: Yigal Nizri

  • Studio circa Spring 2001 session / photo: Yigal Nizri

  • Open Studios, Spring 2001 / photo: Moukhtar Kocache

  • Studios on the 91st floor, April 2001

  • Gelitin, Winter 1999 residents / photo: Nicole Carstens

  • Open Studios, Spring 2001

  • Studios circa Spring 2001 / photo: Yigal Nizri

  • Studios circa Summer 2001 / photo: Yigal Nizri

From 1997 to 2001, LMCC’s first studio residency program, World Views was housed in Tower One of the World Trade Center primarily on the 91st and 92nd floors. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey generously donated raw, temporarily vacant office spaces, which LMCC converted into artists’ studios, thus inaugurating the innovative real estate model LMCC still uses for its residency programs today. Over four years, more than 130 artists from around the world participated in the World Views program in New York’s iconic Twin Towers, gaining unrestricted access to extraordinary raw and open windowed spaces with exceptional views.

Studios in the Sky

World Views was initially conceived as a program exclusively for cityscape painters and the first group of 18 residents was selected through nomination by Graham Nixon of the New York Studio School. By November 1998 World Views evolved to include emerging visual artists working in a variety media and genres who were selected by a changing jury of arts professionals, critics, curators, artists, and LMCC Staff. The program acted as an urban artists colony giving priority to the creative process. Artists received 24/7 access to the building and studios which were partitioned with no doors; curatorial and technical support from LMCC staff; a stipend to help with materials and supplies; the opportunity to interact with peers and build a community; and the space and time to create new work in a truly extraordinary setting. The open-plan studio space, an organic result of temporary occupation, fostered dialogue and the cross-pollination of ideas and quickly became a core component of the residency program.

A year-round Studioscape program continued concurrently with World Views preserving the spirit of the pilot project providing perceptual painters with the opportunity to work from direct observation. Also, each session additional artists created Special Projects, carrying out site-specific projects or performances in the studio space.

Visits by critics, curators, arts professionals, students, and museum collectors’ groups from the New Museum, the Whitney, MoMA and the Guggenheim were also organized during residency sessions. And, at the end of each cycle during open studio events, an average of 2,000 people made their way up into the towers to meet the artists and see their work. A great boon of the open studio events is that they brought the general public and specifically the New York arts audience to this unlikely site of cultural production and to a place in their own city they otherwise may not have visited.

Inspired by Icons

Site, location, and context were integral to World Views’ theoretical framework as artists experienced and explored the built environment and aesthetic dynamics of the World Trade Center and artists often created work inspired by the buildings. This residency offered artists the rare opportunity to experience the intense rhythm and environment of the Financial District and to produce work in situ in one of the world’s most renowned landmarks; it also offered corporate employees the chance for informal, spontaneous exchange with cultural producers and insight into their creative process. The artists slowly became part of the complex and LMCC began to change what it meant to work downtown.

Erasure

On September 11, 2001 the attacks on the World Trade Center destroyed the studios. Devastatingly, artist Michael Richards was working in his studio that morning and perished with thousands of others. To celebrate his life and achievements as an artist, The Michael Richards Fund was created by friends, colleagues, and family of Michael Richards. The fund’s mission was to support promising emerging visual artists of the Caribbean, or of Caribbean descent.

In December 2001 – January 2002 the New Museum of Contemporary Art presented an exhibition of works created by the 15 Summer 2001 World Views artists, who were in residence at the time of the World Trade Center attacks. The exhibition was dedicated to Michael Richards. Thanks to a generous space donation from Two Trees Management Co., six of the Summer 2001 Studioscape artists were able to complete their residencies in studios in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Additionally, in 2004, LMCC published Site Matters: The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s World Trade Center Artists Residency, 1997-2001, a book that chronicles the residency program in the World Trade Center edited by Moukhtar Kocache and Erin Shirreff, including texts by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Erin Donnelly, Tom Healy, Moukhtar Kocache, Olu Oguibe, Liz Thompson, and Anthony Vidler and documentation of works by all participating artists.

Support

Space generously donated by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

This program was made possible with support from:

  • American Express Company
  • Lily Auchincloss Foundation
  • Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation
  • The Jerome Foundation
  • New York Mercantile Exchange Charitable Foundation

With public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

World Views received in-kind support from Borders Books & Music, the School of Visual Arts MFA Computer Arts Department, and Film/Video Arts.

Grantee Spotlight »

Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company

Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company

LMCC grantee Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company returns to LaMaMa this April with their signature combination of puppetry and dance theatre in “Seucy and Boto: Stories from the Amazon Jungle.”

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