Ten years ago, artists Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda worked in a studio space on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower. They came to know the buildings intimately. And then, like the rest of the world, they watched them collapse.
After the September 11th attacks, the pair wanted to fill the void. They collaborated to create “Tribute in Light,” an art installation of searchlights pointing skyward, creating the impressive towers of light where the Twin Towers once stood. “I was most struck when talking to one of the workers down there,” Myoda said, of the first time the Tribute was staged, in March 2002. “He basically said that for so many months, all they were doing was looking down into the pit in Ground Zero and this was one of the first times that people looked up.”
Ten years later, LaVerdiere and Myoda have re-imagined their work for the cover of TIME’s “Beyond 9/11” Special Commemorative Edition. They were appearing in the issue already, as two of the 40 interviewed people whose lives were forever changed by the events of 9/11. But for the cover, the two expanded the scope of their tribute.
“When we first illuminated the Tribute in Light, we never anticipated or conceived its staggering height, it seemed to travel upward forever, drawing one’s eye and imagination into the ether and the infinite,” they told us. “Now with a some degree of hindsight and 10 years retrospection, we imagine what the Tribute may appear like from the heavens, drawing one’s eye back down to earth and into focus with our current time and place, now so very changed.”
TIME covers are no stranger to the works of notable artists, but design director D.W. Pine can’t remember one – not Andy Warhol, not Roy Lichtenstein, not Marc Chagall – who received a titled and credited work on a TIME cover. Until now. Named “Tribute in Light Years,” LaVerdiere and Myoda’s image shows 9/11 for what it really was, not just a New York event, or an American event, but a global event.
But artistic credit isn’t the only rarity about this cover. It also marks only the third time since 1927 that our signature red border has been absent from a TIME cover, the first example being the original 9/11 cover’s black border and the second, 2008’s green-rimmed environment special. “We didn’t feel like black was the right color,” Pine said about the decision for another non-red border, ten years on. “But we wanted to borrow from that, and silver seemed to hit the right note.”