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Ground ZeroA 9/11 Memoir in Word and Image

  Kendall Johnson    

Kendall Johnson, a witness of 9/11, shares his deeply personal journey through art and writing, weaving together a tapestry of experiences that span his life. A former firefighter in California's burning hills and a navy serviceman navigating the treacherous waters of Vietnam, Johnson later found his calling as a trauma psychotherapist for first responders across the nation. Now, as an artist, writer, and therapist, he endeavors to untangle the threads of his own trauma, offering a unique perspective on the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

In his latest exhibit at The Sasse Museum, "Ground Zero—A 9/11 Memoir in Word and Image," Johnson fearlessly blends his roles as a therapist, artist, and writer. Through abstract expressionism, flash memoir, poetry, and creative nonfiction, he unveils his insights into the human experience after trauma. Johnson delves beyond the shocking moments of 9/11, seeking deeper meaning and grappling with humanity's penchant for destruction and exploitation.

The exhibit's narrative begins with a poignant memory: a telephone call from the NY City Schools Chancellor’s Office seeking Johnson's emergency aid on September 11th. Trained to manage crises, he was abruptly cut off as the twin towers fell—a stark reminder of the devastation and communication breakdown that ensued. Johnson's artistic prowess and introspection shine through his paintings and words, capturing the shockwaves and collective traumas that followed the attacks.

Within the exhibit, Johnson engages in internal dialogues, inviting viewers to join him on his journey of exploration. His brushwork mirrors the aftermath of the attacks, while layers of color convey the complexity of individual and shared suffering. Amid the chaos, his work resonates with pleas for understanding and a glimmer of hope, sparking contemplation on what can be learned from history's trials.
Much like Abraham Lincoln's call for unity during a divided era, Johnson's work encourages us to tap into our "better angels" and rise above destruction.

Kendall Johnson's exhibit guides us through the trauma of 9/11, urging us to confront its horrors while fostering a sense of hope. As we journey alongside him through the canvas and pages, we're prompted to reflect on our own roles in preventing further pain and embracing the brighter aspects of human nature. In Johnson's work, the experience of 9/11 becomes a collective lesson that speaks to the resilient spirit within us all.

Sep 8th - Oct 29th 2023

300 South Thomas Street
Pomona, CA 91766

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