Anne Pasternak – Fast 50 2003


Anne Pasternak’s group commissions provocative public-arts projects to challenge and uplift the community. Few projects were as uplifting as the group’s “Tribute in Light,” a breathtaking display of two beams of light that rose near ground zero to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the attacks.


Anne Pasternak
Executive director, Creative Time Inc.
New York, New York


Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
As Executive Director of Creative Time, Inc., I am proud to lead New York City’s most adventurous public arts organization, Creative Time, into its 30th year of presenting innovative art, by emerging and established international artists, that invigorates New York’s public spaces. We brought our mission to a new level last year on the six-month anniversary of September 11 with our commemorative project “Tribute in Light,” a work designed by artists and architects, John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian LaVerdiere, Paul Marantz, and Paul Myoda and produced with the Municipal Arts Society. As grief pervaded the streets and hearts of New Yorkers, “Tribute in Light”, visible for the entire New York Metropolitan area, helped the public heal. Each night during the month of “Tribute in Light,” two great beams of light rose from a site just north of Ground Zero into the night sky to reclaim the skyline and honor those lost on September 11th, and to celebrate the spirit of all the New Yorkers who worked so hard to rebuild and renew our City.

What was your moment of truth?
“Tribute in Light” was the most important project I ever realized, but during the period leading up to it, there were moments when my team and I nearly lost hope. After months of intensive planning and meetings with our collaborators, City officials and community groups, I was growing weary and concerned that this inspiring proposal would not become a reality. In addition, collaboration became tough and the pressure of delivering such a visible temporary monument to an emotional audience was risky, but I was committed to helping the public with its healing while preserving the projects artistic integrity and potency. I hadn’t slept well in weeks. Then I thought to myself, 50 years from now, how do I want to look back on this period? I vowed that I would carry out all my decisions and actions with this vantage point in mind. (The exact date? 1/14/2002)

What were the results?
“Tribute in Light,” first and foremost, contributed to the healing of millions. It was a great professional and personal achievement, one I can not discuss without tears. It was a project whose artistic integrity was never compromised and it gave the public a new idea of what a memorial can be, furthering an appreciation for the important role artists can play in society. “Tribute in Light” appeared on the front page of every major global newspaper and television news station and continues to receive laudatory press coverage and awards, proving to the City and to the world what an impact public art can and does make.

What’s your parting tip?
Define your goals from the beginning. Listen to your stakeholders, evaluate, and adjust your strategies, but always keep in focus your core values and objectives.