MISSING documents a few of the spontaneous shrines that appeared around New York City after September 11, 2001. These tributes to working people touched the hearts of friends and strangers alike, as once anonymous public spaces were transformed into places where people gathered and shared both their grief and their hopes.

CityLore photographer Martha Cooper recorded thousands of these creative responses to the tragedy - memorials to the dead and tributes to the survivors - on street corners, on construction walls, on t-shirts and jackets and hats. This exhibit is a small selection of the many that could be called labor art.

Responding to the September 11 attacks, New Yorkers "were able to draw on their powers of creative expression to forge a civic and spiritual response of a magnitude commensurate with the loss," according to Steve Zeitlin, director of City Lore: the New York Center for Urban Folk Culture.

Photographer Martha Cooper, historian Marci Reaven and folklorist Zeitlin curated an extensive multi-media exhibit--Missing: Streetscape of a City in Mourning--with the New-York Historical Society for Spring 2002. This Missing exhibit uses selections from the earlier and larger exhibit, and was inspired by it. We thank them, and salute their efforts to "document the resiliency of the human spirit," in Cooper's words. Viewers who might be able to contribute to that effort should visit the websites CityLore and The September 11 Digital Archive.

Viewers may also be interested in our Landscape of Lost Arts exhibit, which features two photos from the World Trade Center, one of ironworkers during the initial construction in 1970, and one of lathers during the rebuilding in 2009.

Photographs © Martha Cooper

© Copyright Labor Arts Inc.