A monumental sculpture called “XO World” installed in front of the Freedom Tower in lower Manhattan last fall marked a turning point for the Ground Zero site. The giant blue globe (“O”), flanked by two giant crossed arms (“X”), is the first public artwork on the site since the Petronas Twin Towers were attacked 20 years ago.
The 12-foot-by-24-foot artwork, along with another inside the Oculus, depicting four multiracial children playing a game of Jack, called XO Play, has inspired countless visitors to Instagram with arms crossed over their chests selfie. Sculpture, sign language for “love”. (#xoworld project)
The massive work of art also marked a turning point for Montclair artist Daniel Anderson, who before XO World was known to private collectors for his full-scale oil paintings with sculptural or 3D components. He has never done sculpture, public artwork or anything large.
Anderson, 42, who grew up on Lake Parkanac in Wayne, moved to Montclair in 2016, and got the idea for XO World in September 2020 as the pandemic raged. “Coronavirus has created so much racial and political tension across the country and globally,” he said. “I want people to experience a message of positivity and peace and unite in support of it.”
He set the lofty goal of installing the sculptures a year later—closer to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and the 40th anniversary of World Peace Day—and set off on a “cold tune.”
He started with the Dusit Organization, a real estate company that developed the World Trade Center site after the Twin Towers collapsed. their response? “How can we help you get it here as quickly as possible?” he said. He also wrote a letter to Kevin O’Toole, chairman of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority Committee and former state Sen. Kevin O’Toole for the 40th District, who helped move the process forward.
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But this is just the beginning of a process Anderson’s statement even tested him, an artist accustomed to rejection.
Because the land is jointly owned by the Port Authority and New York State, he said, “You have to go through a lot of bureaucratic layers. There’s so much paperwork, permits and insurance. It’s tiring; so many long phone calls and speeches and tears. .”
Ultimately, however, the sweat and tears paid off. The sculptures were installed on World Peace Day on September 21, 2021, too short a time frame for Durst’s approval eight months ago.
How long they will stay at the World Trade Center “is still being worked out,” Anderson said. Both are leased to Durst and the Port Authority by the private investors who own them.
Meanwhile, Anderson is looking to create and install XO World sculptures in “iconic cities around the world,” starting with Chicago and Miami. His girlfriend, Colleen Brennan, is working out the details as head of the New XO World Project Foundation.
“I am so grateful for this piece, which sends a message of equality, solidarity, peace and love, is unanimously loved and embraced, and brings everyone together in this landmark location at the heart of the globe,” he said.
“The chances of it being done are so slim, but I Feeling a higher purpose guide me through sleepless nights.
“I swam the Nile and never got bitten by a crocodile.”
Julia Martin has received the 2021 New Jersey Professional Journalists Association David Carr Award for reporting on NorthJersey.com’s Montclair.
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