Five pieces of World Trade Center steel twisted and scarred by the destruction of the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, have been transported to Saratoga County, where they will be shaped into a memorial to the terrorist attack and loss of life.
The project, called Tempered by Memory, is scheduled to conclude this year on Sept. 11 when artists John VanAlstine and Noah Savett unveil a sculpture made from the steel and install it in front of the Saratoga Springs City Center on Broadway.
VanAlstine and Savett watched Wednesday morning as the largest piece of steel, weighing more than a ton, was removed with a crane from the truck that transported it from New York City. It was placed outside Savett’s ironworks in Gansevoort, where the two will create the sculpture.
“This is the first time I’ve seen it vertical,” Savett said as the steel hung from the crane. “We have nothing etched in stone yet, but several concepts are on paper.”
The men have had their works shown side by side before, but this is the first collaborative venture, according to VanAlstine.
“We went to JFK Airport together to select the pieces and we had a general idea of how we wanted to use them,” he said. “We don’t want to alter them a lot, but it’s a matter of how to present them in a compelling and poetic way and let the steel speak for itself.”
Saratoga Arts, formerly known as the Saratoga County Arts Council, commissioned the work and Executive Director Joel Reed said having the steel close to what will be its final resting place has been a lengthy process that began with an application to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which had to approve the use of the wreckage from the World Trade Center.
“We had to define our project and how and where the steel would be used,” Reed said. “When we were selected, we moved quickly and found a great deal of support for making this happen.”
Retired iron workers have volunteered their time to help the artists bring the steel pieces into place, and construction companies in the region have also offered equipment and workers to get the job done, he said.
VanAlstine and Savett each expressed hope that the finished product will be perceived as respectful of the people who lost their lives as well as their families.
“Not everyone will be on board, but our intent is to honor the families,” VanAlstine said.
His partner agreed.
“Abstract art doesn’t always get support or enthusiasm, but the community’s support for this project has been great,” Savett said.