Dark Elegy sculpture exhibition begins Pan Am 103 20th anniversary commemoration on Syracuse University campus
Dark Elegy sculpture exhibition begins Pan Am 103 20th anniversary commemoration on Syracuse University campusSeptember 26, 2008SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
They are testaments to the impact of terrorism: sculptures portraying mothers going back to the exact moment they learned their child died in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, over Lockerbie, Scotland. Some are screaming; others are weeping. Some are curled into a ball; others have fists raised in anger. The 76 larger-than-life figures that comprise the Dark Elegy collection were created by Montauk, N.Y.-based artist Suse Lowenstein, the mother of a Pan Am 103 student victim.
Four of these sculptures arrived on the Syracuse University campus on Thursday, Sept. 25, to begin the University’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Pan Am 103 tragedy; the arrival of the sculptures is part of a wide range of planned activities. Information on those activities can be found at the University’s Pan Am 103 20th anniversary website: http://panam103.syr.edu/calendar-of-events. Visitors are also encouraged to leave memories and reflections on the website.
It was 20 years ago this December that 270 people lost their lives in what has been described as one of the first acts of terrorism on a truly international scale.
Pan Am Flight 103 departed from London’s Heathrow Airport on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 21, 1988, bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The 259 people aboard included 35 students who had spent the semester studying abroad in London and Florence, Italy, through SU’s Division of International Programs Abroad (now known as SU Abroad).
The plane exploded in the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, at 7:03 p.m. local time (2:03 p.m. ET), killing all 259 passengers and crew, as well as 11 Lockerbie residents on the ground.
“Pan Am 103 indelibly changed the landscape of Syracuse University forever,” says Kelly Homan Rodoski ’92, communications manager in SU’s Office of News Services and chair of the University’s Pan Am 103 20th Anniversary Commemoration Committee. Rodoski was a student on the SU campus when the tragedy occurred. “This was the kind of event that occurred elsewhere, not in our part of the world and not on our campus. The fact that 35 young men and women in the prime of their lives, brimming with intellectual curiosity and spirit of adventure, were taken in a senseless act of violence was, and remains today, incomprehensible.”
In the years since the bombing, SU has maintained strong connections with many of the families who lost loved ones. Every year since 1990, 35 SU students have been named Remembrance Scholars, one of the most prestigious honors the University bestows. The University has forged a strong relationship with Lockerbie, and each year two students from Lockerbie come to Syracuse to study for one academic year. Through these scholarships, the University encourages students to exchange ideas and to educate themselves and the entire campus community about the devastating effects of terrorism.
SU is also home to the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives. Established in 1990, the Archives brings together in one place materials generated regarding the bombing, makes those materials available for research and provides a place to personalize all 270 victims.
The Dark Elegy exhibition will be on display through Dec. 21. Lowenstein, the mother of SU student victim Alexander Lowenstein, created the sculptures in the years immediately following the tragedy as a way to translate expressions of grief, pain and rage. She invited the mothers of the victims into her studio and asked them to go back to the moment when they learned their loved one had died. “This is the moment that I froze in time,” Lowenstein says. Each figure is inscribed with the names of the person posing and the person lost. Lowenstein included a small memento of the victim in each sculpture. Thirty-five of the sculptures were displayed on the SU campus during the 1995-96 academic year.
Other activities planned as part of the commemoration include:
- “From Darkness Into Light: 20 Years of the Pan Am 103 Archives,” an exhibit featuring materials from the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives, in the Hendricks Chapel Noble Room Oct. 19-Dec. 21;
- 2008 Remembrance Week, a week of commemorative activities sponsored by the 2008 Remembrance Scholars (schedule to be announced) Oct. 19-26;
- a panel discussion on “Pan Am 103: Lessons Since Lockerbie,” on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium; co-sponsored by the Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics and the Media, the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs, the Campbell Public Affairs Institute, and the Student Association on Terrorism and Security Analysis;
- the Pan Am 103/Lockerbie Air Disaster Archives, open for public viewing on Friday, Oct. 24, from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 25, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 26, from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in the Spector Room, Room 608 of E.S. Bird Library;
- the annual Rose-Laying Ceremony, on Friday, Oct. 24, at 2:03 p.m. at the Wall of Remembrance; the annual convocation for Remembrance Scholars will be held at 3:30 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel;
- “Story Archive,” opportunities to record memories and remembrances, Saturday, Oct. 25, and Sunday, Oct. 26, by appointment; e-mail Kelly Rodoski at firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment;
- 20th Anniversary Remembrance Dinner, Saturday, Oct. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center; tickets are $35 per person; visit http://panam103.syr.edu/invite to register; and
- staged readings of “The Bird and the Two-Ton Weight,” a play about life, death and family, and how they intersect with the Pan Am 103 tragedy, Saturday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. in Hendricks Chapel; both performances are free and open to the public.
“The commemoration committee hopes that these events and opportunities will honor the loved ones lost and will recognize the tremendous legacy of Pan Am 103 both on our campus and in the world,” says Rodoski.
SU’s Pan Am 103 20th anniversary commemoration will culminate with a special Service of Remembrance in Hendricks Chapel on Sunday, Dec. 21, the 20th anniversary of the tragedy.