By Paul Gessell
Bryna Cohen is an Ottawa artist best known for painting cheery bouquets of flowers. So, what’s with the startling representations of people jumping out of New York’s World Trade Centre just before the twin towers collapsed Sept. 11, 2001?
Cohen is sitting in her westend studio hauling out the paintings and photo-based art destined for a 9/11-related exhibition Sept. 8-21 at St. Laurent + Hill Gallery in the Byward Market. She began crafting this body of work in 2005, hoping to arrange an exhibition one day. It’s taken awhile but, finally, she got a firm date from St. Laurent + Hill, her dealer, for the show and was delighted the timing coincided with the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.
Since 2001, Cohen has been haunted by “the desperation” of people in the World Trade Centre who had to decide in an instant whether to burn to death inside the towers or to jump to a sure death from the buildings. Although Cohen’s art is meant to pay tribute to these victims of 9/11, to help the world remember that tragic loss of lives, there will undoubtedly be people who feel this art is exploitative. Cohen admits that one of her own aunts, an artist in New York, is not pleased with this art project. (more…)