The Bog People – Statement

“Anywhere is the center of the universe.” – Black Elk, Sioux Nation Medicine Man

Last Goodbye for the Victims of 9/11

In June 2001 while working on a still life painting, a face mysteriously began to bring itself out onto my canvas. Fascinated by what I was seeing, I abandoned the still life I was working on to focus on the strange image that was emerging. I took up a brush in each hand and as both my hands moved across the canvas the face seemed to come out on its own as if coming out of “the bog”. While continuing this process on new canvases and with the addition of spray paint many new faces appeared. Some appeared only partially, some would not open their eyes. It seemed they all had reached a very bad end. I got the unsettling feeling they had been murdered and wanted to tell me something. These were their last terrifying moments and upon studying their expressions I felt a profound sadness. Not knowing where they came from I called them my “bog people”.

I continued to paint them and they started getting particularly gruesome in early September. I still didn’t know where they were coming from or what they meant. On September 10th, 2001 I started feeling very uneasy because the painting that day was just a partial face with terrified eyes looking through body parts all floating in a blue and white explosion. It wasn’t until the day after the attack on the World Trade towers when I came into my studio and saw their beseeching faces looking out from the clouds of dust and the bright blue sky that I realized what I had been painting. I was devastated.

I want to share these with you and share my feelings about them. In trying to ascertain what it was they were trying to tell me, it seems more than anything else that they simply wanted to tell their loved ones “goodbye.” A task I am wholly incapable of achieving but perhaps in sharing them with you somehow in some small way it is possible.

There are a total of seventeen portraits. I painted thirteen in the months before 9/11 and four after. (They are numbered and dated in the order they appeared to me.)

Marcia Gerardi 2002

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