Witness is my elegy to what I saw the day the world changed. I said to myself, “I’m making a song for the people who died. And I am going to make it as beautiful a song as I can.” – Todd Stone
Living on the top floor of a five-story building with rooftop views of the nearby World Trade Center, Todd Stone heard a deafening roar as hijacked Flight 11 flew overhead on September 11, 2001. Within seconds, he had photographed the sight of pigeons lifting into the sky, seemingly in response to the sounds of the plane striking the building. Fearing that the city was under attack, Stone went to the roof to see what had happened and continued to take pictures. Through the viewfinder of his camera, he saw a fireball erupt from the South Tower as hijacked Flight 175 crashed into it. Stone remained on the roof throughout most of the day, sketching and taking pictures of what he saw unfolding a few blocks away. When the towers collapsed, dust and ash settled on the roof and seeped into his home through a skylight.
Within a few days, unable to rid his mind and spirit of the horrific images he had witnessed, Stone began a new series of paintings. He rubbed World Trade Center ash into his watercolor paper, turning it from brilliant white to dull gray. Three of the 16 paintings in this series, Witness, are displayed here.
These paintings depict the succession of events centered at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, as seen from Stone’s home and studio six blocks north of the site.
Todd Stone is a watercolorist and oil painter whose work over the last 15 years examines the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and the ongoing recovery in lower Manhattan. Stone renders his cityscapes in vibrant colors and vivid detail. A native New Yorker, Stone moved to lower Manhattan around 1980. Located just six blocks from the Twin Towers, Stone’s home and studio were literally in their shadow. For many years, Stone’s work was primarily abstract, but by 2000 he had expanded his practice to include studio scenes, landscapes, and cityscapes, often featuring the Twin Towers.