|The “Faces of Ground Zero, Portraits of the Heroes of September 11, 2001 Collection,” consists of 246 Giant Polaroids. These compelling, life-size photos (9' x 4') were shot during a three-week period shortly after September 11, 2001, with additional images shot in 2002 (John McLoughlin, Will Jimeno, Mayor Bloomberg, Lisa Beamer with her baby and a few others) on the garage-size, unique Giant Polaroid camera at Moby c studio near Ground Zero in New York City.|
The photographs show McNally's brilliance as a photographer and his humanity in capturing everyday people in these historic moments. These unique, monumental portraits are of people who have become representatives and icons of the families of the victims, rescuers, uniformed workers and others related to this tragic event and its aftermath. This massive historical record of people's stories from 9/11 and afterwards, during its seven venue exhibition tour in 2002, received an enormous amount of multi-media coverage.
The traveling exhibit was seen by over a million people (Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central and Rockefeller Center in New York City, as well as London, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles (Skirball Center), and San Francisco), making it the most widely seen exhibit about 9/11 and its aftermath. Over fifty-five thousand copies of the "Faces of Ground Zero" book have been sold. This Collection in its entirety has helped raise over two million dollars for the 9/11 relief effort.
This Collection is considered by many museum and art professionals to be the most significant artistic endeavor to evolve to date from the 9/11 tragedy. It was presented by Jan Seidler Ramirez (at that time Director, The New-York Historical Society, and recently named as Director of Collections and Chief Curator of the WTC Memorial Museum) to the WTC Memorial Center Advisory Committee, as the type of material which should be included in the museum since it incorporates the individual stories of victims, survivors, responders, area residents and witnesses. Since then, the WTC Memorial Museum has indicated its desire to include images from this collection in its permanent museum.
Amy Weinstein, Assistant Curator, The New-York Historical Society and curator of their "Radical Hospitality Exhibition," views McNally, in addition to being the photographer producing this incredibly important collection of giant Polaroid portraits, as a unique giver of what she calls "radical hospitality", part of the "…remarkable story of how ordinary people pitched in to provide comfort, support, and amenities to the rescue and recovery workers at the site of the destroyed World Trade Center." McNally and this project were highlighted in their exhibit in 2004.
Visit the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center website for a podcast interview of Joe McNally by Dr. Jan Seidler Ramirez, Director of Collections and Chief Curator, by clicking HERE.