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 the railroad 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 Tony’s spirit.
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.
The next 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