Leo O'Donovan, S.J., on Jane Hammond's 'Fallen'

Thanks to Fr. Leo O'Donovan, a frequent contributor to America, for sending along this review of a moving and timely piece of art work:

In this season of remembrance, the FLAG Art Foundation in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood has become a place of pilgrimage. Here the New York-based artist Jane Hammond has installed her tribute to the American men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq, a work more moving than ever now that President Obama has determined to bring the last troops home by the end of the year. Called simply “Fallen,” the piece seems at first a seductively nostalgic bed of fall leaves placed on a low-lying bed measuring 15 by 5 feet. (The dimensions have varied, depending on the gallery space in the other cities where it has been shown: St. Louis; Columbus, Ohio; San Diego, and Roanoke, Virginia.) Looking down on the fragile potpourri of color, one gradually realizes that each leaf bears the name of someone lost in the war. The names, fully spelled out, as at birth and death, are Anglo and Hispanic, Native American and Asian, mournfully more various the longer one looks. There are now 4,455 leaves, each one unique, as were the—mostly young—people they represent. Real leaves were gathered and photographed, digitally scanned, printed on archival paper, then cut out by hand. The paper stems were thickened and fortified with fiberglass and matt medium, and the whole leaf then painted by hand in various colors. After being signed in ink, the leaves were subsequently molded. The artist must add, alas, more leaves to the memorial. And there is of course the horrible question of how many Iraqi lives were lost. But for now and until Dec. 15, anyone wishing to remember and pray for our own “departed dead” may stand, or kneel, before this altar of sacrifice. And the Whitney Museum of American Art, which owns Ms. Hammond’s piece, is considering extending its exhibition until Dec. 31.

Advertisement

“Fallen” is on view at the FLAG Art Foundation, 545 West 25 Street, Wed. through Sat., 11-5

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

Imtiaz Cajee, nephew of Ahmed Timol, poses with his book about the activist on Aug. 24 in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa. (AP Photo, File)
A judge has overturned a finding of suicide and ruled that Ahmed Timol was murdered by South Africa’s Security Police 45 years ago.
Anthony EganOctober 23, 2017
Activists with Planned Parenthood demonstrate in support of a pregnant 17-year-old being held in a Texas facility for unaccompanied immigrant children to obtain an abortion, outside of the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.
Texas bishops: "No one -- the government, private individuals or organizations -- should be forced to be complicit in abortion."
Catholic News ServiceOctober 23, 2017
It is time for the laity to speak out and act like true disciples of Christ in spreading the joy of the Gospel. 
Thomas J. ReeseOctober 23, 2017
Pope Francis speaks from the Vatican as he addresses Canadian youths in a video message that was included in a Salt and Light Television program on Oct. 22 (CNS photo/courtesy Holy See Press Office).
“The world, the church, are in need of courageous young people, who are not cowed in the face of difficulties," the pope said.
Michael J. O’LoughlinOctober 23, 2017