Jody Hewgill
November 2011
Deconstructing Ground Zero

I was up at our cottage when Pamela Fogg , the art director for  Middlebury magazine called me and asked if I would be interested in illustrating this story on 911. I hesitated. I stared out at the blue sky and calm lake, it was a stunningly beautiful day just like September 11, I just couldn't believe 10 years had passed.

I was at home on September 11, 2001 waiting for new studio doors to be delivered. My husband Balvis called out to me to come to the TV; an airplane had just flown into one of the trade towers. Then in utter disbelief we watched the second plane hit. After the shock subsided a little, I came to the realization that my cousin's husband worked in the trade towers. Luckily he was able to escape the second tower before it went down, although he was stuck in the stairwell for a while because they wouldn't let people out into the square those first few minutes after the first tower was hit.
Over the P.A. system they told everyone to go back to work, so his fellow colleagues did as they were told and they all perished. He refused to comply. He stayed in the stairwell and waited until the doors were finally opened so that he could leave.

When I work on a piece I find it helpful to immerse myself in reference material. Looking over the special issue magazines from 2001 still evoked shock, disbelief, horror and sadness. This story for Middlebury magazine by author Michael Ricci is a first person account of a welder and his experience working with firemen during the first early days after 911. The moment I am illustrating depicts a scene where the firemen uncover the remains of one of their colleagues.
I can't even begin to imagine how those firemen felt recovering the bodies of so many of their colleagues.
I only have the reference material to guide me, and the memory of the look of my cousin's husband's face as he told me about his experience losing all his office colleagues.

In the story, the welder has to burn and cut a beam, so they can lift it offf the pile.
When they lift up the beam, they discovered part of the helmet with the number melted on to the beam, the only remain found for this one fireman.

This sketch better reflected a moment of prayer upon the discovery of their fallen collegue. Pamela and the editor thought I should somehow include the narrator, so in the final, I turned the fireman on the far upper left into the welder, and I switched the  shovel for a welding hose.

Pamela's beautifully designed spread nicely echos the focal point of the illustration:  A  flashlight emanating from the open hole left when the beams were removed.
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