Communicating 9/11 through the Language of Art

Finger painted lettersArt is a language. For the sake of this blog, let’s call it “artlish”–not to be confused or linked with the Artlish Caves Park in British Columbia. “Artlish,” the language, can externalize experience, perception, hope, fear, rage or a combination of those feelings and others. On opposite ends of a spectrum, “artlish” can be raw or it can be refined.

It is influenced by culture, education, repetition and trends. But most often, artlish is spoken privately in the imagination, in dreams and nightmares, in a studio, on a stage, in a welding shop, in an edit suite, in found objects, through a camera, drawn in the sand, through the written word, or through dance and movement. Artlish doesn’t need an audience to be uttered but when it is taken in, a connection is made.

When we think of New York particularly around 9/11, images, sounds, smells, and experiences come to mind. If we were conscious on that day, most of us have a memory of it. This month I am devoting this Art Therapy blog to artlish of 9/11 rather than write about it.

The examples of artlish provided here are by no means an exhaustive study of all that was produced, nor of the most horrific examples. These are examples from people who were affected, who were moved, and found the need to express. As an audience your participation is not necessary, but if you engage, you are participating in the age-old language of communication of artlish. Your senses provide witness in the virtual forest that hears the sound of a tree falling.

© Copyright 2011 by By Barbara 'Basia' Mosinski, LCAT, ATR-BC, MA, MFA, therapist in New York City, New York. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jonathan


    September 16th, 2011 at 2:18 PM

    Those works of art amaze me! They are so evocative of that day and the raw emotions that this time in our history still brings up for many many people. These are works that should be viewed and treasured and honored, much as those who fell on that day should too.

  • Warren Todds

    Warren Todds

    September 16th, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    I love this artlish of which you speak. What is so incredible is that these works of art are so open to interpretation. Everyone who has visited this page has seen the same images, yet no two people interpret them in the same way.

    I do like them all very much but my favorite is Divided 9/11 Truth. When I look at this I see the US and lady liberty with filled with joy and happiness except for a piece missing because of 9/11. To me I feel the artist is showing how the death and despair of 9/11 has caused a whole to form in America a whole that will never be filled. Yet, someone else can see it differently. This is the beauty of artlish.

  • conrad


    September 16th, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    a picture speaks a thousand words but then well thought-out art speaks a million words if you ask me.there is just so much that is communicated in these pieces of art. it carries emotions,anger,fear,hope and so many other things.

    art is also an outlet that can set a person free and let the person explore new things, all from the same spot.

  • SunnI


    September 17th, 2011 at 6:18 AM

    These pieces really do inspire me to never forget the trauma that we endured. And art therapy can be so uplifting for many people, whether they have ever experienced art like this or not. IT is a creative way to get out your feelings when there are no words to express the sadness or whatever you are feeling.

  • H jacobs

    H jacobs

    September 19th, 2011 at 3:50 AM

    There is just so many elements to each of these pieces of art.the creator is trying to convey something,to say something and to show us the viewer something in every little part of the art. Its not the perfection that matters in art, it is the message and intent for the art itself that matters more!

  • Chrissy Small

    Chrissy Small

    September 19th, 2011 at 3:01 PM

    Excellent article, Barbara. I believe you’ll also be interested in another art form that communicated 9/11 through their illustrations–cartoon illustrators.

    Many well known nationally syndicated strips ran Sunday full color strips dedicated to the tenth 9/11 anniversary that weekend. There were several famous cartoon faces involved including many we’ve all grown up with like Dennis the Menace, Archie, Hagar The Horrible, Heathcliff, Blondie plus more contemporary ones…the list goes on and on, almost into three figures.

    I’d read about it on CNN and have revisited the gallery many, many times since then. It touches your heart very deeply. I have a new found respect for cartoonists.

    The illustrators came together under the umbrella of cartoonistsremember911. This is from the webpage dedicated to displaying the artwork on and thereafter the publication date.

    “In respect of the 10th anniversary of 9-11, the major comic syndicates rallied their cartoonists to pay homage to one of the darkest days in American history through their September 11, 2011 Sunday comic strips. All of the nearly 100 participating strips, which may be viewed in the online gallery below, have an overarching September 11 remembrance theme. Some convey sadness, while others embody hope, fortitude and faith. All are sensitively crafted and beautifully poignant in their own unique, thoughtful and appropriate way.”

  • alice.m


    September 19th, 2011 at 11:06 PM

    whatever we do with a good intent does seem to do its job.see the art shown here.all were done for a loss that is irreparable, yet they signify from the artist,life that the artist wants to flourish,life that was gone on 9/11 yet lives on in the art, in our memories and in our hearts. art is a wonderful way to express your feelings.

  • Blake Norris

    Blake Norris

    September 20th, 2011 at 3:42 PM

    The one by Tamara just looks like your typical New York scene at first glance, and then I noticed the debris coming out of the tower on the right. Nowadays, few would even dare to put a plane in the same picture as the towers because of the sensitivity of the topic. I’ve not seen that Simpsons episode where Homer goes to New York to get his car back for years.

  • Mia Pearson

    Mia Pearson

    September 20th, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    @Blake: It’s the only one I actually like along with the burning flag one. The others are either too surreal or make no sense at all to me. The burning flag picture is the best, as I do believe America was definitely torn in two by that event to where it harmed the very foundation of the country.

  • Art Adams

    Art Adams

    September 20th, 2011 at 6:19 PM

    @Mia Pearson: Harmed isn’t the right word. When 9/11 happened, for a brief moment, everyone forgot about race, religion, class, and wealth. They stood together, helped each other, helped clear the rubble, and pulled others from the wreckage. If anything, it was shaken, but we stood up in defiance of it.

  • yvonne brand

    yvonne brand

    September 20th, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    @Art Adams: We did, agreed. Sadly such togetherness never lasts. Once it was over, people gradually got back to their lives and reverted little by little to how they were before the atrocity. Their personal walls went back up,which is sad as we could have enhanced that bond, not allowed it to unravel. Despite the annual reminders of 9/11 every anniversary we don’t come together as closely as we did on that day ten years ago.

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