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Ejay Weiss

9/11 Elegies

The unthinkable and unimaginable has occurred.
A horror of devastation and death –
A void
A violence beyond grasp. And yet. . . .we can have hope and we can help. – Journal entry by Ejay Weiss, dated September 12, 2001

Ejay Weiss grabbed his binoculars and left his studio on West 21st Street and Ninth Avenue soon after hearing the roar of an airplane flying low overhead. He zigzagged his way south and west, pausing at 14th Street, which had already been cordoned off by law enforcement. Training his binoculars at the fire burning in the North Tower, he saw the sun-drenched blue sky as well as clouds of smoke through the gash where the plane had penetrated the building. Weiss continued to peer through his binoculars as the towers collapsed.

A lifelong New Yorker, Weiss was overcome with grief and enraged at the atrocity perpetrated on the only home he had ever known. Within days, he felt compelled to witness the devastation for himself and rode his bicycle to Ground Zero, where he gathered some World Trade Center dust and grit. Weiss tried to comprehend the catastrophe by sketching and painting. By early 2002, he had completed four paintings, on view here, into which he incorporated bits of the dust and earth he had collected. By the first anniversary of the attacks, Weiss had completed a total of nine paintings in a series he later named the 9/11 Elegies.

Ejay Weiss portrait
Photograph by Rolando Vasquez

Ejay Weiss

American, b. 1942

Ejay Weiss’s work explores ideas related to science, physics, and metaphysics. His paintings also address political questions and the social and historical turning points of the 20th and 21st century. A native New Yorker, Weiss grew up in Brooklyn and studied painting and architecture. His images are often structured by grids, and a square-within-a-square format is recurrent in his work. Window-like openings, which he characterizes as “windows to infinity,” also feature in his paintings. Alongside his work in the arts and education, from 1992 - 2009, Weiss served as artist-in-residence and design coordinator for Cabrini Medical Center’s hospice program.

Interview With The Artist