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"Focus Gallery: Joel Meyerowitz - Aftermath," Archives 9/11 at Miami Art Museum

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Following the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the rubble of the World Trade Center was designated a crime scene by U.S. authorities and access denied to everyone except law enforcement and rescue workers. At the time, the press was prohibited from the site. New York artist, Joel Meyerowitz, became the only photographer granted the right of entry to Ground Zero. Influenced by Walker Evans's and Dorothea Lange's work for the Farm Security Administration during the Great Depression, Meyerowitz began documenting within a few days of the attacks, the destruction and recovery efforts at Ground Zero and surrounding neighborhood.

The Miami Art Museum is commemorating the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 with "Focus Gallery: Joel Meyerowitz - Aftermath," an exhibit of color pictures capturing the harrowing consequences of terrorism.

Searchers in Rubble
Copyright Joel Meyerowitz, Courtesy Edwynn Houk Gallery

Meyerowitz's historical archive of the aftermath of the tragedy, photographed day and night during a nine month period, grew to include over 8,000 images of what became known as "The Pile." He later published a book from that cache and much of the work was viewed by millions of people around the world in touring exhibits.

"I was making photographs for everyone who didn't have access to the site," says Meyerowitz, "I wanted to communicate what it felt like to be in there as well as what it looked like: to show the pile's incredible intricacy and visceral power. I could provide a window for everyone else who wanted to be there, too, to help, or to grieve, or simply to try to understand what had happened to our city."

The arresting MAM exhibit consists of 24, recently-donated photographs, to the museum's permanent collection.

Meyerowitz, who toiled elbow-to-elbow alongside rescue crews has mentioned of the experience, "The nine months I worked at Ground Zero were among the most rewarding of my life. I came in as an outsider, a witness bent on keeping the record, but over time I began to feel a part of the very project I'd been intent on recording... the intense camaraderie I experienced at Ground Zero inspired me, changing both my sense of myself and my sense of responsibility to the world around me."

A special preview for emergency personnel will be held tonight from 4-7p.m. and admission to MAM will be free to all emergency personnel including firefighters and police, as well as their guests throughout the show's run ending November 6.

"September 11th was a tragedy of almost unfathomable proportions," says Meyerowitz. "But living for nine months in the midst of those individuals who faced that tragedy head-on, day after day, and did what they could to set things right, was an immense privilege."

"Focus Gallery: Joel Meyerowitz - Aftermath" at the Miami Art Museum (101 West Flagler St., Miami). Admission to MAM costs $8 for adults, $4 for seniors.  Call 305-375-3000 or visit miamiartmuseum.org.

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