The healing power of art can be found many places – but for painters Kerry Irvine and Todd Stone, it’s some 800 feet above where the Twin Towers once stood.
The two are among several artists who have been given rent-free studio space inside 3 World Trade Center.
Todd Stone is on the 71st floor, Kerry Irvine on the 80th – both offering spectacular views, and the solace of being near sacred ground.
Irvine’s sister Kristin – an equities trader who worked in the South Tower - died in the attacks of September 11th, just a few months after her wedding.
“She was wonderful. She was fun. She was everything that I do hope to be.”
Irvine, a former stylist for Ralph Lauren who painted as a hobby, found it too hard to do so after 9/11.
Eight years later she picked up a brush again, and now makes a living selling her abstract works.
Entering the building each day, she passes her sister’s name, now etched in the nearby 9/11 memorial.
“I do believe working in these studios, in these buildings, has been the last step of my healing. It really helped to bring closure. This is not a scary place for me down here. I’m very at peace. In the morning I can touch her name, come in and work.”
Stone is a survivor of 9/11, who lived just a few blocks away with his wife when the towers fell – his paintings now largely a reflection of that time.
"I am still fully moved when I come down to the Trade Center. I have three paintings that I'm working on that were inspired by 9/11. I feel it. I feel a place in this community, that I'm part of this rebuilding effort. I see that there's a role for me here.”
His and Irvine’s studios come courtesy of billionaire real estate mogul Larry Silverstein and his company Silverstein Properties – who offer vast, raw space to artists until the floors are leased. Once that happens, they are moved to another open floor, or building.
The properties provide not just a place to paint, but to show their work as well.
Stone's exhibit "Renewal" runs through Oct. 3rd in a gallery within the World Trade Center transportation hub Oculus. It documents the 20-year rebuilding effort in lower Manhattan.
"I'm hoping this picture triggers a recognition of the strength of our city, the strength of our country, to renew itself in the wake of what happened down here."
Irvine, too, hopes her work strikes a chord with all who see it.
“If I can move somebody emotionally, I've done my job."