Famous NYC Tattoo Artists to Cover 9/11 Survivors' Scars
A select group of eleven of New York's most famous tattoo artists are covering the scars of 9/11 victims and First Responders with beautiful artwork, bringing attention to the lingering suffering from that day and making a statement about our modern views of terrorism.
Says Craig Dershowitz, President of Artists 4 Israel and the organizer of the event held at Harlem's world famous Apollo Theater tomorrow, July 11, from 2pm-8pm and the Hotel on Rivington's Penthouse on July 12 also 2pm-8pm: "We have done this work with victims of terrorism in Israel and it was life changing for those involved. We were honored to be invited by the NYPD, FDNY and the community of 9/11 survivors to do the same work in NYC."
Eleven survivors and first responders are scheduled to receive tattoos they themselves helped design. Thomas Canavan is one of only 19 who survived being buried under the collapse of the Towers.
"I want a tattoo of the WTC Towers, the date 9/11 and word 'survivor,'" he says. "I want to be the voice of those that are no longer here to speak." Bobby Bell was an NYPD first responder on 9/11 and was assigned in the following days to search debris fields to recover body parts for DNA to help the families have some type of closure. He would like a tattoo with a blue NYPD shield logo above the Twin Towers with the words 'first responder' and 'never forget.'
The 'never forget' line is memorable to many of the tattoo recipients who feel that the tragedy of 9/11 is remembered only once a year even though its impact is constant.
"I was critically injured in the collapse of the North Tower," says Gary Smiley, "I am medically retired from the NYC Fire Dept. due to numerous physical illnesses as well as severe PTSD." Smiley says he would like a tattoo in remembrance of his fallen brothers. "It is the belief in the Fire Dept. that if you continue to speak of those lost, their memory never dies."
"I was just 23 years old, working for Morgan Stanley in an entry level job," says Rebecca Lazinger, "September 11, 2001 was actually my one year work anniversary with Morgan Stanley, and I was eager and excited that morning to mark the occasion. After literally running for my life that horrible day, my shoes flew off in the commotion. I ran wildly with bare feet, dodging falling metal, concrete and bodies." Lazinger would like a tattoo on her ankles to help her heal the memory of cuts on her feet she took on 9/11. "I am 38 years old now, I still struggle to experience joy. I still have frequent nightmares and insomnia, and PTSD symptoms every day."
Artist Chris Garver, a celebrity tattoo artist famous for his work on NY Ink and other TV shows, says he is participating in honor of all the fireman he used to tattoo in lower Manhattan who lost their lives. "I think a tattoo can heal a little bit," says Carver, "and possibly relieve some of the pain caused by 9/11."
Dershowitz and all the artists donating their talents were in New York City on 9/11 and most are native New Yorkers, creating a connection between them and those they serve. The artists are masters in the field, many from the once illegal tattoo parlors that made NYC famous and now appear on television shows, magazines and have huge followings on social media. All of the artists have expressed that this is one of the highlights of their careers. "They are excited by the opportunity to help those still wrestling with their wounds and to remind the world that 9/11 should not lose its significance and become just another day to pay lip service to 'memory'," says Dershowitz. "The survivors of 9/11 carry the pain of that day written upon their bodies. These artists are going to help them write a new story of their own choosing."