Tonawanda News

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April 4, 2013

Memories of Ground Zero work highlighted in art show

NORTH TONAWANDA — In his poem about the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, William Butler Yeats referred to the execution of the rebellion’s leaders as a “terrible beauty,” a tragedy that would eventually lead to a reinvigoration in the Irish fight to get out from under British rule.

Out of the deaths, came something beautiful and inspiring.

Matthew Tyree is set to show that he, too, has found some sort of beauty in tragedy with his sculpture show at Project 308 Gallery in North Tonawanda, opening Friday. Tyree’s show, “Ground Zero,” is inspired by the time he spent as an EMT responding to the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent months he helped recover bodies and clean up the World Trade Center site.

“Ground Zero,” which will be up at the gallery until April 10, is Tyree’s senior thesis show as a culmination of his sculpture degree at Buffalo State College. 

The Long Island native said he always wanted to be an artist, but his fine arts education was delayed when he made the move to become an EMT.

“I was certified as an EMT and eventually worked my way into the fire department. I put my artwork on hold but it was something that never really left me,” he said. “After some of my 9/11 experiences I was getting burnt out.”

He moved to Western New York six years ago and returned to school at Buffalo State. But just as his artwork was something that never really left him, neither did his experiences at Ground Zero.

“The work I’m doing now is inspired by my memories of being at Ground Zero and the things I’ve seen and had to do,” Tyree said. 

Most of his sculptures are abstract representations of his time there such as one work inspired by the shape of a bag pipe — a musical instrument often associated with funerals of police and firefighters.

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