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Manju Shandler


The simplicity of paying tribute to those who I would never meet but whose lives were so close mine in our shared city gave me purpose. It was a way of directing all the feelings of rage, sadness, and fear into something proactive using the tools of my life as an artist. – Manju Shandler

Overwhelmed with emotion like so many New Yorkers in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Manju Shandler sought to ground herself through the process of making art. She chose to express the magnitude of loss through individual paintings, one for each victim. Shandler turned to the images that dominated the news media after 9/11 and juxtaposed them with images of her own creation. Among the approximately 3,000 paintings she created are portraits drawn from photographs appearing in the New York Times’ Portraits of Grief series.

Shandler began the first paintings by tinting the background red, black, or white. Within a few weeks, wishing to express a broader range of emotions, she added yellow and pink backgrounds. Collectively, the paintings serve as her gesture of understanding and remembrance. Approximately 850 individual paintings are displayed here.

Manju Shandler portrait

Manju Shandler

American, b. 1973

Manju Shandler considers herself a visual storyteller. A theater designer and mixed-media artist, she creates sets, costumes, masks, and puppets for ballets, operas, and other performances. Her visual art makes reference to mythology, politics, and current events. The craft techniques essential to theater design also inform her visual art. Her sculptures are often mobile and articulated like puppets, and her paintings and two-dimensional work are often comprised of layers of handmade paper, sewn polyester film, vinyl, and other media.

Interview With the Artist