Resilience and Remembrance in Newly Displayed Paintings

  • June 23, 2022
Artist's rendering of lower Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge
Frank Dammers' "Freedom New York," 2005. Gift of the artist.
Artist's rendering of two young women, one in a pink dress and one in a purple dress, shown from the back, looking at a painting that is shrouded in a halo of light.

Derek Fordjour's "Gooding Girls," 2004. Gift of Richards Spears Kibbe & Orbe LLP.

Freedom New York, by the Dutch artist Frank Dammers, and Gooding Girls, by American Derek Fordjour, are newly on display in our Education Gallery.

Dammers created Freedom New York in 2005, inspired by an earlier chance encounter with a group of 9/11 survivors while vacationing in Mexico. Having experienced personal hardship including a traumatic car accident in his own life, Dammers was moved by their resilience and identified with their struggles to move forward. In response, he painted a tribute to New York City, which he felt embodied those same qualities in the aftermath of 9/11.  

Celebrating the city’s grit and optimism, Freedom New York captures a view of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn foretelling New York’s rebirth from the 2001 catastrophe. At right, the Brooklyn Bridge spans the East River, yielding a view of the new World Trade Center complex rising from lower Manhattan. At the time Dammers began the painting, the rebuilding plans were barely underway. Nonetheless, he envisioned the area’s bright, colorful future, with One World Trade Center already standing tall and proud against the skyline. 

Following the attacks, the law firm of Richards Spears Kibbe & Orbe assisted the family of Calvin Gooding, a Cantor Fitzgerald trader killed on the North Tower's 104th floor. In 2004, Calvin's widow LaChanze commissioned Derek Fordjour to paint Gooding Girls as a thank-you gesture for the firm. The Goodings' daughters were young children in 2001, and the painting depicts them as fashionably dressed young women looking at a portrait of their late father in a museum. A halo of light encircles them and the painting during this reunion. 

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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