Marie Roberts: 22 Drawings of “The Pile”

Marie Roberts is well known as artist-in-residence and official banner painter at Coney Island USA, but she is an accomplished artist outside that context. In the days after September 11, she spent three months at “the Pile”, recording her impressions of the devastation, the recovery, the responders and the onlookers. She was generous enough to share some pages from her sketch book, and some thoughts.


“We got into Manhattan on September 15, the first day the trains ran. The first thing I saw when I came out of the subway was a dead green parrot. Remember, no photos were allowed? The soldiers and police let me draw because ‘no one said nothing about drawing’. You could smell it for six months where I live, 10 miles away. The ash and paper came down over my street when – was it number 6? – fell.*  It was something I doubt, I hope, I will never forget.”

* World Trade Center 7, 48 stories tall,  collapsed at 5:21 pm the evening of 9-11, several hours after the Twin Towers fell. 

Marie 1

Marie 2

Marie 3

Marie 4

Marie 5

Marie 6

Marie 7

Marie 8

Marie 9

Marie 10

Marie 11

Marie 12

Marie 13

Marie 14

Marie 15

Marie 16

Marie 17

Marie 18

Marie 19

Marie 20

Marie 21

Marie 22

Some additional thoughts from Marie from a couple of days ago:

“I am on the Staten Island Ferry. Soldiers with uzis [sic] are here standing in position ( full riot protective gear) watching as we board. I just looked up and a soldier like this is patrolling the aisles.

A Coast Guard skiff just passed with a soldier standing in the bow with drawn uzi , passing between the two ferries. Thirteen years ago, on September 9 I would not have dreamed I would see this in my own city.

When I was in France in 1987 I saw soldiers there like this at the airport. How outrageous it seemed, how foreign.”

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