September 11 at Grounds for Sculpture: A Reflection

September 11 at Grounds for Sculpture: A Reflection


Human beings react in a variety of ways when tragedy - like the shocking events of September 11, 2001 – strikes. Some choose to do something to divert their attention away from the source of the pain. Others seek an activity or a place that provides companionship and a feeling of community. And many people search for serenity in an attempt to offset the sadness. A friend who is a violinist remembered how devastated she was when the attacks occurred and what an impact it had on her and her music. “It was months,” she told me, “before I could play any piece that wasn’t tempestuous, anxious and brooding."

She also said that, for her, an appropriate way to mark the anniversary, especially ten years down the road, was quietly and without much fanfare.

I don’t disagree with that approach, and I didn’t plan to attend a memorial event or nor did I check the television listings for commemorative programming. But I found myself wanting to spend the day in a way and a place that would lend itself to reflection.

So I visited Grounds for Sculpture, the magnificent 35-acre outdoor art space in Hamilton, NJ. And, for me and for many others who were there, it was the perfect way to respect the anniversary.

Last September 11th, GFS offered free admission to all. The promotion was wildly successful, bringing in almost 10,000 visitors! This year, first responders and their families could come to GFS for free and, according to the guides I spoke with, plenty of people took advantage of this opportunity.

One woman told me she’d been watching some of the commemorative events on TV all morning and then decided that coming to GFS might be a better way to honor the day. “It’s just so peaceful here,” she said.

Another person said that being at Grounds for Sculpture always makes her feel calm. “There are so many hidden areas and lots of benches where you can just sit,” she said. “And even when there are people around, you feel like you have a private place."

And a man, who was clearly an art lover, said that being around all this creativity is good for his soul. “I come back here again and again,” he told me. “There are always new works to see and the whole place changes with the seasons”.

So, maybe it was the combination – being out IN the world, with children laughing and people conversing, and yet still having the sense of my own personal space, and also being surrounded by natural beauty and marvelous art – that turned out to be such a suitable way to spend the day.

I think it was.

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