Twenty-eight Hundred and One Kisses Goodbye

I started this project in October 2001 as a response to the” Portraits of Grief” as seen in The New York Times. I felt that each person who died at the World Trade Center needed a kiss goodbye.

Each panel contains kisses ranging from 150 to 300 a panel. I applied black acrylic paint to my lips and kissed the canvases. I tried to imagine kissing people on foreheads, cheeks, or lips. Then I painted circles to encompass each kiss in sanctuary, resembling catacombs. It was difficult to shake the vision of the floors in the building pancaking on top of each other. The red signifies life and death. The gold, which appears in the mouths, represents souls escaping their worldly bodies and moving on. The dusty surface represents the swirls of refuse from the aftermath.

I never tried to make the kisses uniform or to fit the same amount onto each panel. Sometimes my mouth was tight and sad; and other times it was relaxed and open. Whereas most kisses are momentary, ephemeral gestures, warming our hearts, often taken for granted, these kisses are marks, heavy and dark, shaped by emotion. I like the fact that each mark, like every aspect of the universe, is unique.

These kisses are tributes of unconditional love for mankind. They symbolize the restorative power of love. Kisses are positive connections with other human beings, expressions of reassurance, caring, compassion, giving meaning to and validation of our lives.

As I ended my task, my sadness moved into anger as I face my country’s irresponsibility and selfishness. I worry about our future. And I fear for my children and their children’s children. We need to heal the emotional wounds of the world. These words keep haunting me, “We must change our selfish ways or we can surely KISS IT ALL GOODBYE.”


How ironic are the words of Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of the World Trade Towers:

“The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace. It is a representation of man’s belief in humanity, his need for individual dignity, his beliefs in the cooperation of men, and through this cooperation, his ability to find greatness.”