I met Francine and
Petros just over a year ago. They knew they wanted to create a
memorial for Tony and that they wanted to work with an artist.
Sharon Pitts recommended they speak to me.
The original concept was to create something that would go under
the trestle where Tony died. We agreed that I would begin work
on the commission when I was done teaching in the spring. During
the winter I started building a chair out of styrofoam and cement,
using a technique that allows one to make strong, lightweight
cement pieces with infinite possibilities.
One day while picking my son Ian up at the high school, the idea
came to me that I could use this same process over a bench at
Rand Park in which to create the memorial for Tony. Francine and
Petros liked the idea because it worked on many levels. It was
located in a highly visable place near the high school that Tony
attended and there would be plenty of space to embed some of Tony’s
writings. The bench would also serve as a reminder as to how dangerou
tracks can be.
I wanted the bench to speak,
to provide a physical and emotional experience as you moved around
it, allowing the words to touch the viewer with the essence of
After getting the go ahead from Kevin Ward at Parks and Recreation,
I began work at the site. My first day was spent fitting the styrofoam
over the bench. I wrapped it up for the night and put a sign on
it asking people not to touch. The next morning I came back and
the Styrofoam had been broken. After much reflection and advice
from various people, I figured out what I needed to do to create
this project in a public space. I needed to get the cement on
quickly so it would be less vulnerable. I asked to have a fence
put up around the bench, my husband Peter made explanatory signs
for the site, and I put out a call for help.
Francine contacted Tony’s friends and I reached out to my
very supportive circle of friends and we asked if they could help
me get the base layers of cement onto the bench. During those
two long beautiful days, over 18 people volunteered their time
and we got the bench off to a great start. This was how it was
meant to happen.
two months I spent in my studio, embedding Tony’s words and
story into the cement and doing the finishing work on site. This
time became an intense period of sacred work. I was completely immersed
emotionally, physically and spiritually. I was floating in this
creative pool of energy, being nourished by both the public time
on site and the private, contemplative hours spent in my studio.
I dreamt about the project, always waking up early, sometimes starting
work before dawn.
As we all worked together on the details, I became the vehicle that
allowed the Anastasopoulus family to create this tangible object
that embodied their grief and celebrated their beloved son. It has
became clear that this is the kind of work I want to do. I feel
honored to have been a small part of this healing process.
Working with Francine, Petros, Jason, Ligia, and even Sasha, has
been a truly life altering experience for me. I want to thank them
for allowing me this opportunity to create this sacred object.