Touch Drawing in New York City after 9-11

I want to share some images and writing from one of my Touch Drawing workshops at the Open Center in NY. These workshops were offered free of charge to anyone who wanted to come. Several of the attendees had been eyewitnesses to the Trade Center collapse. When we gathered for the closing circle, I had the sense that we had done a collective Touch Drawing session. See below some of their images and words.

Find out more about the Heart of America Bus Tour, the context in which these workshops were held. See Deborah’s Touch Drawings of New York City Firemen, created during an evening with the men of the 31st Street Fire Station.

Ned Leavitt


click on thumbnails to see
larger view of Ned’s Drawings

Ned Leavitt

Soaked in images – tears – anger
Inundated with grief – numbness
Plumes of dust, spirit, flying hair molecules
All fall down
Humpty Dumpty
All fall down
Going down
The whumph of impact –
The Yyyrrruuuummmmmggggghhhhhh of
Doomed airliner right overhead
Right over my head – what the fuck –
Whummph – whatS……!?

Wounded – bleeding – lives gone – lives going –
hearts opening – steel concrete…….

Eyewitness – down go down ugly buildings
up fly up suddenly souls – bodies instant
dust – going to pulverized dust –
going up up to meet God to meet
souls – instantly spirits – gone up
up up high
flames – dust – darkness –
The huge release – huge release – huge infusion of
life energy – life energy coming in & so alive now –
so alive – alive


click on image
for larger view
of drawing
The Hand of God

Lynn Margileth

To make the Touch Drawing, I began with the hand at the bottom, thinking of the hand of God. So many lives were lost in such violence and unimaginable horror. We live just 20 minutes walk north of the attack site. The attack plane flew over our building and we heard the tremendous boom of the plane hitting the first tower. When we saw the fire and smoke pouring out from our roof, I knew people were injured and dying. I had no idea at that moment that there was to be so much more death & destruction. All day on September 11, I cried & prayed. I kept seeing the plane hit over and over in my mind. Finally, I began to consciously visualize & pray that the souls of all those who died would go straight to the arms & light of God.


Adrienne Chiaramonte

I do not have a title for my drawing, but it is an image of a tree which I feel very strongly about. I used my fingertips to touch the paper lightly and each touch reminds me of an individual life-being that is part of this tree of life. I can see my fingertips, which identify my physical body which reminds me more of each individual person belonging to this tree. There is a motion of activity moving across the tree but it stands strong and grounded against the force. This image of a tree keeps coming back to me as a metaphor for a body which contains us all.

Tree as container.


Ella Dillon


The Dance

Ella Dillon

Life affirmation

Spiritual Self Portrait

Meghan Gille

I saw the attack on the World Trade Towers, but
I am still 101 days later uncertain what I witnessed.
My drawing, though, is a drawing of my spirit, and
it is still intact. I also know I can resolve some other things, knowing now my spirit is sound.
Spiritual Self Portrait.

click on image
for larger view
of drawing
Dream –
Life Continues

Vickie Somez

At first I wanted to draw a dream I remembered after September 11th 2001. It was an image of people going into the clouds. As I went on I tried faces and then just letting my fingers feel the paper. I tried to use color to reflect my moods. Trying hard to come out of sadness and a feeling of confusion.
Eventually, I got to the color green and did sweeping movements upward on each side of the paper with people in the center. Green reflecting healing, life and nurturance. Life continues.

Alchemy of Metal

Marsha Trattner

Just when I thought there wasn’t more, my hand would find new things to do. I drew how my body felt, got the tension out, it worked its way up through my head,
imagined something difficult, something I wanted to say, pictured it, drew it without picturing it.

I turned the paper to horizontal orientation – gave me more room, more space. I could explore a space – trees, hills, landscape. I conjured my sculpture out of metal called Pipe Dreams. Its lost possibly and I haven’t taken care of it. But I remember it and I drew it; it’s contours, textures. I thought about how working with the metal and heat is a transforming process. Changing the nature of material itself (alchemy) – there is hope, relief, opening in that.


Sheila Marman

So much to understand
Looking for answers – what are the questions?
Exploration, seeking, looking for a new angle.

I often don’t know where to begin
How do you open yourself
How do I open myself?

So much to uncover
Looking for guidance and direction –
Where am I going?
I turn left, I turn right
Just maybe I will find a path
Even just to the next step.

I keep hoping, keep striving,
keep believing that I will discover what is true in me.

Phoenix Rising

Alana Karran

Fireman’s Heart

Anne Theisen

My Soul’s Colors

Mark Tourevski