Commemorative Print Honors the I-35W Bridge Collapse

“13 Flowers” by Marni Tobin

The opening day of the Uptown Art Fair, August 1, is the one-year anniversary of the I-35W bridge collapse–a tragic event that rocked Minnesotans, altering their faith in bridges and causing them to question their own mortality. The tragic accident claimed the lives of 13 people and injured nearly 150. It brought national attention to Minnesota–Minneapolis, in particular–and spurred other states to review the safety of their bridge networks.

In order to honor the victims, the families who lost a loved one, and those who were injured, the Uptown Art Fair asked the 2008 Commemorative Print Artist Marni Tobin to create a painting to pay homage to that fateful day.

“It was a sad day for all of us,†Tobin says. “I’m hoping I can reflect upon that day through my art, by remembering as well as showing hope. I sought to honor the people who lost their lives by creating a painting featuring connection, rebuilding, new growth, and reflection.â€

Tobin felt it was important, as a lifelong Minnesotan, to give back to the community through this commemorative piece.  She came up with the idea in March and spent a month researching and painting. 

“One of the first things that struck me when studying the victims was their cultural diversity,†she explains. “I believe this is very representative of Minnesota and our community, and a bridge is symbolic of connecting people and cultures. To represent and remember the diversity of the 13 people who lost their lives, I used 13 flowers. This also signifies re-growth. Some flowers are connected to each other–as in a bud, seed, or smaller flower–to represent mother and child. I also used flowers native to the different countries or states of the victims to represent their different cultures. The new bridge and Minneapolis skyline represent our city’s ability to rise up from the rubble and re-build.â€

The main focus of the piece, she says, is hope, resiliency, and strength, but, “I also feel it’s important to remember the tragedy of that day, which I convey through the bridge debris floating in the water.â€

Even while acknowledging the tragic outcome of the collapse, Tobin focuses on hope and rebuilding through painting a person helping another ‘rise up’ from the disaster.

The 48-by-36 inch oil painting, titled “13 Flowers,†is available as a commemorative print by calling 612-823-4581 and will be for sale during the Uptown Art Fair at the Fast Frame booth on Hennepin Avenue. The original framed artwork will be displayed in Minneapolis after the Uptown Art Fair in remembrance of Aug. 1, 2007, and will eventually be auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the I-35W Bridge Foundation.