Sept. 11-inspired painting highlights summer show

"Angels of Liberty" painted in act of grief; now featured in German documentary | May 20, 2005

On Sept. 11, 2001, artist Holly Schapker acted out her grief and anguish by painting Angels of Liberty, a huge oil painting depicting fallen firefighters, police and others being escorted by angels to heaven in the aftermath of the World Trade Center collapse. She painted for three months on the canvas.

Now the 50- by 84-inch-painting is the center piece of Schapker’s exhibit running from Sunday, May 15, through Sunday, Sept. 11, on the third floor of Gallagher Student Center.

Schapker, now a Xavier art instructor, says she had a vision of beautiful angels taking firefighters and police by their hands and leading them to heaven. “I covered the wall of my studio with a canvas eight-feet tall and began painting that day,” says Schapker.

She also created lithographs of Angels of Liberty and sent them to firefighters and police in New York, New Jersey and around the country. One such lithograph caught the eye of a German public television crew working on a documentary about angels. The three-man crew traveled to Xavier last month to interview Schapker and her students.

Angels of Liberty won an impressive credential—second place in the national juried competition, Spirit of America. The painting is being displayed along with Schapker’s alla prima work as an instructor of painting in the department of art, commercial work and even a self portrait. The painting can be viewed online at Schapker's web site.