Prayer Flags

Like many Americans, Carla Shapiro experienced a lingering sense of loss after the 9/11 attacks. The skyline of her native New York looked empty without the mighty presence of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.Reminders of the lives lost were everywhere in the City. Carla, a professional photographer, decided to apply her artistic skills to an act of mourning. Retreating to her cabin in the Catskill Mountains, she began to create individual prayer flags—one for each of the lives memorialized in the the "Portraits of Grief" obituaries published daily by the New York Times in the months after 9/11. She hand copied the obituaries onto vellum sheets and hung them over the creek that flows past her cabin, eventually completing 1,910 flags. They flew over the creek for a year until the elements had washed them clean and turned them blank again. As the ink wore away, Carla says, her grief and pain were released.

 

Carla's photographs of the prayer flags will be exhibited in September at galleries in Woodstock, New York and in New York City.