Client: The American Freedom Distillery
Location: St. Petersburg, FL, United States
Completion date: 2021
Artwork budget: $585,000
MGA Sculpture Studio
Ceramic Artist/ Community Coordinator
Helen Pruitt Wallace
The American Freedom Distillery
In 2021, The American Freedom Distillery commissioned MGA Sculpture Studio to create a monument that commemorates those who lost their lives during and after the September 11th, 2001 attacks.
American Freedom Distillery reached out to us to create a monument to first responders and all those impacted by the events of 9/11. They had already created a memorial to honor those lost on that day, and in the conflict that followed in Afghanistan, that was placed at ground zero in New York. In the process of moving that sculpture from it’s temporary location on the twin towers site to it’s permanent home by the museum, a piece of tower 1 was unearthed and it turned out to be the last piece of that tower removed from the site. This became the centerpiece of ‘Rise’.
Dimensions: 25′ H x 40′ W x 40′ D
Medium: Steel, Copper w/ Verdigris Patina, Granite, Glazed Tile, Limestone, Aluminum, Stainless Steel
Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
In my initial conversations with AFD, they talked about wanting the Monument to look forward and focus on how the community recovers and heals from an event like this. It was at this point that the idea of the Phoenix wing came to mind. Rising from the ashes-rebirth became the primary theme for the monument. It is reiterated in the arched wall, symbolizing the rising sun - the dawn of a new day - that is the backing of the monument.
The piece of steel I-beam from tower one sits atop a black granite pylon that has a poem by St. Petersburg Poet Laureate, Helen Pruitt Wallace, etched into it. The granite pylon is rising up through a broken pile of limestone meant to represent the destruction of that day. Behind the I-beam, sits the 23 foot tall copper Phoenix wing to represent rebirth created by MGA Sculpture Studio, and behind that, a half-moon wall is standing tall, adorned with hand-painted tiles coordinated by ceramic artist, Jeremiah Jacobs, by school children, midtown residents, the creative community, and first responders. Working on this project was a wonderful process. We shared the creative challenges associated with using our artistic mediums to express such an intense and significant experience, particularly in this politically polarized world that we find ourselves in. We tried to hold on to hope as an inspirational guide through these challenges. After all, 9/11 is a shared experience by all Americans. We are bound together by this common thread.