By Alana Calmi, Media Relations Staff
In the aftermath of 9/11, grieving New Yorkers found solace and support from the four corners of the earth – even in the remote Italian countryside, where a group of talented art students responded with their hearts and their hands to the devastation with a unique gift to the American people.
Today, that gift – a mosaic in the shape of a lightning bolt that comprises more than 1.4 million pieces and weighs more than a ton – hangs along Track 1 at the revitalized World Trade Center PATH facility, offering a burst of color to riders in a station otherwise bathed in white. Saetta Iridescente, as the piece is called and translates as “iridescent bolt of lightning,” was created by students at the Friuli School of Mosaic in Spilimbergo, Italy.
A nearby plaque reads: “A positive energy is unleashed and bonds two people in a shared desire to overcome moments of horror, to move forward and build a peaceful future:” –a gift from the Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy) to the City of New York as a mark of gratitude and solidarity.
Glenn Guzi, the Port Authority’s program director for the World Trade Center, was on hand the day the artwork was first installed at one of the temporary PATH stations post-9/11, before being moved to Track 1 last year with the dedication of the Oculus at the WTC Transportation Hub.
“This beautiful piece of art is a reminder that we are all bonded together and are stronger when good people lift each other up,” said Guzi
The structure, 118 feet long and 12 feet high, took just 90 days to create and two weeks to install in 2004. It’s the handiwork of advanced art students under the guidance of school faculty members and overseen by artist Giulio Candussio, who was inspired to the unusual design while flipping through a book on the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.
Candussio envisioned a lightning bolt between Adam’s finger and the hand of God, and that energy could be represented by color. Students were assigned different portions of the mosaic, and each worked off an executive drawing that was then spliced for easier installation. The piece is composed of 55 individual sections assembled together.
Many PATH riders who board trains on Track 1 are aware of the art on the wall, even if they are unaware of its special provenance.
“I take the PATH every day and rarely do I look around. But the art does add a nice pop of color in an otherwise bright-white station,” said one commuter from East Orange, N.J.