Lawyer. Pioneering Firefighter. 9/11 First Responder. Retired FDNY Captain. White House Fellow. These are just a few of the titles earned by Brenda Berkman, the woman whose extraordinary story launched Women You Should Know in 2011. Today, Brenda is an accomplished artist, and her “Thirty-Six Views of One World Trade Center”, a series of images she created as a way to directly deal with the rebuilding of 9/11, is now on special exhibit. It hangs in the same Brooklyn courthouse where she won her federal sex discrimination lawsuit against the City of New York in 1982, a landmark victory which opened the door for women to become FDNY firefighters.
Brenda’s “Thirty-Six Views of One World Trade Center“, a series of stone lithograph images she drew and printed over three years, will be on display through June 21 in the Charles P. Sifton Gallery at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn. Charles P. Sifton was the judge who presided over the trial for Brenda’s lawsuit, which is still regarded as one of the most influential cases in the history of the U.S. Fire Service as it caused game-changing ripple effects in fire houses and departments across the country.
“Thirty-Six Views of One World Trade Center” Artist’s Statement:
“After the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9-11-01, a debate arose about what should be done with the WTC site. Proposals included: no building except a memorial; rebuilding the Twin Towers; creating completely new building designs. As someone who was at the World Trade Center as a fire officer on 9-11 and lost friends and colleagues that day, I was conflicted about what should be done – I was apprehensive about what kind of buildings might replace those that were destroyed. As it turned out, very little was built on the original 16 acres for many years although the replacement for 7 World Trade Center (just north of the 16 acres) was completed and opened about 5 years after 9-11.
“As I was leading tours of the World Trade Center as a volunteer for the World Trade Center Tribute organization (9-11 Families Association), I watched the new One World Trade Center (originally to be named the “Freedom Tower”) start to rise. I began to be fascinated by that new building – I liked the design of it far better than the original Twin Towers. As glass went in, I could see reflections of the clouds on the building. I watched in trepidation as huge I-beams were hauled up the side of the building.
“Although I started making stone lithographic prints in 2008, I never made any art that had as its subject either 9-11 or the World Trade Center until 10 years after 9-11. For the tenth anniversary, I organized a collaborative art project with 13 other artists based upon my stone lithograph self-portrait – the figure was bent over as if under attack.
“The idea of making a series of stone lithograph prints showing the building and views of the new One World Trade Center took hold of my imagination. I began studying prints that other artists had done of cultural and architectural icons including Japanese artists Hiroshige (‘One Hundred Famous Views of Edo’ [Tokyo]) and Hokusai (‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji’) and French artist Henri Riviere (‘Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower’). I decided my series would be ‘Thirty-Six Views of One World Trade Center’.
“And so I began to create these original small edition lithographs. The first print in the series includes a “ghost” image of the 9-11 figure towering over the WTC site. After three years of work, the final print in the series of thirty-six was completed.” – Brenda Berkman