While the New York City subway tumbles along as one of the oldest public transit systems in the world, in the past few months the MTA has updated several stations across the city with gorgeous new art installations. The MTA Arts & Design division has worked with local artists since the 1980’s to bring artwork to more than 260 stations. These artists often ground their work in the history of the neighborhoods, telling the stories of the streets above.
1. Broadway Station, Astoria
The January re-opening of this elevated station in Astoria, Queens on the N, W lines brought landscapes of glass filled with vibrant color. Diane Carr, in her “Outlook” installation, took the valleys, rivers and streams that once made up the neighborhood and sent them through a kaleidoscope.
2. 28th St Station, Manhattan
The artist Nancy Blum used glass mosaics of flowering plants to bring some life to the recently renovated station on the 6 line. The Brooklyn based artist has designed hatch covers for the city of Seattle and a glass installation in the San Fransisco General Hospital, each of which focuses on floral designs.
For this project, she sourced the flowers from the nearby Madison Square Park Perennial Collection, profiling plants that can survive both the harsh winters and humid summers of the city. “Roaming Underfoot” transforms the concrete station into a garden filled with color. See more photos of this station here.
3. 23rd St Station, Manhattan
Artist William Wegman converted portraits of his Weimaraners in plaid shirts and raincoats into mosaics with the help of mosaic designer Mayer of Munich. Wegman started taking photos of the dogs in the ’70’s after he got a Weimaraner and named him Man Ray after the surrealist photographer. Man Ray, the dog, was the star of Wegman’s photography and the artist continued to collaborate with Weimaraners for his decades long career. In the station, the Weimaraners are surrounded by beautiful light blue and gold backgrounds that brighten up the look of this station on the F/M line. The dogs watch out for the next train or gaze at the crowds just like the passengers.
4. 145 St-Lenox Ave Station, Harlem
A line of drummers dressing in purple coats and hats greet commuters at this Harlem hub on the 3 line. The mosaics composed of glass and ceramic were installed in November 2018 as a part of Derek Fordjour‘s “Parade” installation. Fordjour, an artist based in Harlem, captured the bright colors and party vibe of the neighborhood’s historic parades. The pink hues and pastel yellows of his paintings and collages were converted into mosaic by Miotto Mosaic Art Studios. Now, passengers can experience the parade year round.
5. 167th St Station, Bronx
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, James Baldwin and Reggie Jackson all look out at busy passengers in artist Rico Gatson’s series of new portraits in this B/D station in the Bronx. The portraits are an addition to the artist’s ongoing “Icons” series, which was exhibited at the Studio Museum in 2017. In this installation, the artist focused on inspiring figures important to the Bronx, translating photographs into glass mosaics. Geometric lines of orange, yellow and blue emanate from these inspiring figures. “Beacons” captures the rich culture and history of the borough through its icons.