Cypher, 2005-06. Forged iron, 16 x 56 x 7.5 ft.

Tom Joyce: The Iron Iceberg

When the Twin Towers fell, Tom Joyce was in New York for an exhibition of his work at the Museum of Arts and Design. Several months later, a friend sent him a vial of ash from the site. On the one-year anniversary of 9/11 while on a John Michael Kohler Art/Industry Residency in Wisconsin, Joyce decided to blend the ash into a cast iron alloy that included sand from a mandala made by Tibetan monks in Santa Fe and blessed soil from a shrine in Chimayo, New Mexico. Using this symbolic fusion of tragedy and faith, Joyce designed and cast a vesica piscis, a 3,000-year-old fish-shaped symbol. Common to both Christians and Muslims, the vesica piscis also represents the mystical Pythagorean union of the divine with the world of matter and creation. Its shape is made by the intersection of two circles of the same radius, joined so that the center of each circle lies on the circumference of the other. Joyce adapted a three-dimensional tetrahedron from the fish symbol and concealed it within the geometry of the form. His 9/11 Memorial is small enough to be held between open palms, the human warmth condensing moisture as it meets the coolness of the metal. The sand becomes meaningful here: Tibetan Buddhists believe that when mandala sand comes into contact with moisture it releases a prayer.