Some heal through art

Sep 112006
Authors: TIFFANY HEIEN The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Dealing with the loss of Sept. 11 was subconscious for artist Don Voss.

“I was not trying to create a piece for 9/11,” Voss said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything. It was a doodle.”

Voss’ artwork, a wash of greens with figures arranged in a city skyscape, was presented to a crowd of nearly 100 students and community members Monday afternoon. Voss created the work six months after 9/11, but says the reference to the tragedy was unintentional. He said a friend saw the piece and told him it looked like New York City.

“People heal in different ways,” said Mike Ellis, executive director of the Lory Student Center. “For some, it’s expressing themselves through art. For others, it’s viewing art.”

The piece, “Community,” was dedicated to the LSC Transit Center as a commemorative piece to the 9/11 attacks.

“I don’t think it’s the actual piece of art,” junior speech major Ben Weikert said about the piece, “it’s what the art does to people. I think it’s great.”

Ellis said that the lack of intention in the piece is important in “Community.”

“I think (the artwork) is very powerful,” Ellis said. “Even more powerful was that it was a subconscious act of doodling.”

Voss said the greens in the piece represent healing, and that there is a sense of “the spirit of people and endurance” in the work.

“The Twin Towers and buildings (in the piece) resemble people,” Ellis said. “Buildings are people.”

Voss said he tried to sell the piece but decided instead to dedicate it.

“It couldn’t be sold,” he said. “It needed to be given.”

Voss, the general book manager at the CSU Bookstore, said that he approached Ellis about plans for the Sept. 11 anniversary.

“I went to Mike and said I had this piece,” Voss said. “I wanted it donated in the name of others.”

The piece also was dedicated to the student union of the University of Oregon in 2004.

Ellis hopes that the piece will help people take a moment out of their day to reflect on the tragedy.

“(‘Community’) is intentionally placed for visibility and to offer a place to reflect,” he said.

Graduate student and director of the Curfman Gallery Stan Scott helped organize the dedication. He said one of his jobs was “choosing the ideal location” for the piece, which hangs near the entrance of the bookstore.

“We wanted a feeling of rebuilding and renewal,” Scott said.

Ellis said the location was chosen because the lounge area offers a quiet place to reflect. He also said many students would see it because it is in a high-traffic area.

There are plans for a plaque to be hung with the piece giving information about the artist, the artwork and the purpose for the piece.

“I think the best way (to commemorate 9/11) is to remember,” Weikert said. “(The artwork) will be there for years.”

Staff writer Tiffany Heien can be reached at

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