San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Sculpture Memorializes Sept. 11

THE twin shadows of the former World TradeCenter now fall on San José in one of their incarnationssince their demise – a metallic rendering thathonors the memory of those who died on Sept. 11,2001.Costa Ricans gathered beside citizens of theUnited States in the Parque 11 de Setiembre de 2001in Sabana Norte last Saturday to inaugurate thememorial and reflect on the tragedy.U.S. artist Roland Hockett donated the sculpture,which portrays the two towers made of columns ofround copper bars overlaid with jagged metal patchesthat imply the breaking up of the buildings, and wavylines emanating from their upper levels.“I didn’t want to reward the tragic act,” Hockettexplained. “I wanted to focus on something positive.I moved the forms (of the wavy lines) to the top so it’snot like an explosion – they’re at the top where itlooks like the spirits (of the victims) are rising.”THE memorial sculpture is the result of collaboration between the Costa Rican-NorthAmerican Cultural Center, the CostaRican-American Chamber of Commerce(AmCham), the U.S. Embassy, theAmerican Colony (a group of U.S. residentswho live in Costa Rica) and theMunicipality of San José.Manuel Arce, director of the CulturalCenter, was the impetus behind the sculpture,and coordinated among the variousdonors to arrange the details of the project.At the inauguration, U.S. citizens herereflected on the tragedy and on CostaRica’s remarkable expression of supportand sympathy for the victims and theUnited States after the attacks.“IT’S hard to express how much itmeans to Americans when other countriescome together to express their solidarity,”said Elaine Samson, spokeswoman for theU.S. Embassy in San José.Lynda Solar, executive director ofAmCham and dual U.S.-Costa Rican citizen,remembered San José’s reaction tothe attack. At first there was disbelief,she said, and then “a tremendous outpouringof grief from the citizens ofCosta Rica (expressing) solidarity withthe U.S. citizens living here.”After the attack, Ticos inundated theU.S. Embassy with cards, flowers, andsignatures in the book of condolences(TT, Sept. 14, 2001). Many offered assistanceto the survivors and families of thevictims, which the embassy here had toturn down because the afflicted areaswere already overwhelmed with aidoffers from neighboring U.S. states.SOLAR said she went to a mass at theMetropolitan Cathedral in San José thatwas “overflowing with Costa Ricans.People would come up to me, crying as if Ihad lost a brother or a mother.”It was hard to be away from the UnitedStates during the aftermath, she said.“You seek solace from your countrymenin a time like that. You want to sharethe grief with fellow Americans. You feela kind of impotency being here, when youwant to be in your country taking part inthe grief,” she said.Solar said she is moved by Hockett’sgenerosity in donating the sculpture.HOCKETT, a muralist and sculptorwho recently retired from a 35-year runas a university art professor in Florida,donated nearly four months of his timeand paid the wages of his assistant, artstudent Eric Jones, while the othergroups donated money, materials, laborand other services to bring the 1,300-pound sculpture to Costa Rica.He built the sculpture twice, once inhis hometown Panama City, Fla., wherehe designed it for shipment in 30 parts,and then he broke it down and mailed itto San José. Here, he, his assistant Jones,and a team of workers from theMunicipality of San José reconstructedthe sculpture in the two weeks before theinauguration.“There are no complete lines, though itlooks like there are. As a design problem,it was a challenge,” Hockett said.This was his second art project in thecountry. The first is a mural calledLibertad that he donated to the JuanSantamaría International Airport in 1987 tohonor former President Oscar Arias’ NobelPeace Prize award.SAN José Mayor Johnny Araya, whosemunicipality is one of the memorial’sdonors, said, “It’s an expression of CostaRica’s and San José’s solidarity with theUnited States, and at the same time it’s ourcondemnation of terrorism.”He pointed to the recent tragedy at aschool in Russia and the train bombingsin Madrid, saying those events “obligateall of us in the world who believe in peaceand democracy to maintain a militantposition (against terrorism). Thoughwe’re a small country we will protecthuman rights,” he said.He said he feels a sense of solidaritywith the United States and the survivorsof the World Trade Center attack, whileat the same time supporting the recentruling by the Constitutional Chamber ofthe Supreme Court (Sala IV) against thedecision of President Abel Pacheco’sadministration to include Costa Rica onthe list of countries that support the warin Iraq (TT, Sept. 10).

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