Jersey City artist Rikki Reich was at her downtown home on Sept. 11 during the World Trade Center attack. After panicking briefly, Reich felt she had to do what she could to help New Yorkers escape the nightmare. She walked to Exchange Place with a manual Nikon FM camera (used by photojournalists) and shot pictures of New York City, and the people fleeing from it.
For several hours, Reich took picture after picture of the catastrophe in an effort to capture the tragedy.
"After I saw the developed pictures, I knew they needed to be on a wall," Reich said.
The award-winning photographer, born in Germany, grew up in New Mexico. At 17 she discovered photography and loved it, she said. She studied the craft and mastered the process of printing. The darkroom became for her a place where magic was made, she said.
In 1989 she moved to New York City to seek out photography, and several years later she moved to Jersey City. Reich's resume includes working for magazines like Newsweek and Seventeen. Her photographs have been shown in NYC at venues like the Morning Calm Gallery, Gen Art, Art in PlainView, and the Museum of Modern Art.
Reich brings to the Chamot Gallery at 111 First St. in Jersey City eight powerful images of her series "The Voice of Silence," which chronicles the events of Sept. 11 from the Jersey side. The images, 20- by 24-inches processed on selenium-toned silver gelatin prints, go for $1,500 each, and are delicate treasures that capture the tragic essence of the pain experienced by thousands of New Yorkers.
"I didn't see chaos; I saw human souls," she said during her well-attended May 9 opening. "All I could focus on was the spiritual aspect; to honor these people."
One captivating image, "The Clock," symbolizes people leaving the planet, and how time is running out, explained the artist.
The manipulation of light in the photographs is clearly what separates these images from other Sept. 11 photos. Reich was very successful in adjusting the lens to the morning sun that day, and she shot according to the angles necessary to maximize the images' content.
In her statement, Reich wrote that she did not know how to express her feelings about what took place on Sept. 11 until one night, when she remembered a quote from the former Czechoslovakian president and writer Vaclav Havel: "In everyone there is some longing for humanity's rightful dignity, for moral integrity, for free expression of being and a sense of transcendence over the world of existence."
Reich's poetic vision will be shown until June 23 at the Chamot Gallery at 111 First St. The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and by appointment. For more information call (201) 610-1468 or visit them on the web at www.chamotgallery.com. q