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Pope Francis Looks at Artwork by Spencer Finch '85


During his visit to the United States, Pope Francis took some time to remember the lives lost on September 11, 2001 with the help of a memorial created by Spencer Finch ’85. Finch’s work, Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning, is on display at the September 11 Memorial Museum. It is quite a spectacle: a collection of pieces of paper, all hand-painted different shades of blue, the goal of which is to capture the famously clear blue sky the morning of the terrorist attacks.

The work contains 2,983 squares of paper, one for each life lost during both the September 11, 2001 and the February 26, 1993 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Each square is a unique shade of blue. The resulting image is striking and extremely touching: a 2,983 unique lives now part of a clear and beautiful sky. Pope Francis was photographed appreciating this piece and paying tribute to the lives lost in the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Finch was a comparative literature major at Hamilton, and went on to earn his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to being commissioned to make this piece, the only work of art to be commissioned for the September 11 Memorial Museum, Finch was also commissioned to make one of a small number of permanent pieces for the High Line. That piece is titled The River That Flows Both Ways, and was inspired by the Hudson River.

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