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Subway Station Assignment/Public Art February 25, 2009

Posted by leskanturek in Class Assignments, Public art, Visually Cool & Relevant.
Tags: ,

Sketches due: March 2nd
Comp due:
Finish due:

…The MTA Arts for transit commissions’ site –specific permanent artwork for subway stations. Public art that is seen by hundreds of thousands visitors who use the subway. Arts for Transit’s projects create links to neighborhoods with art that echoes the architectural history and design context of the individual stations. Both well-established and emerging artists add to a growing collection of works created in the materials of the system — mosaic, ceramic, tile, bronze, steel, and faceted glass. The art can be seen in the miles of walls within the system and in the gates, windscreens, plazas, and architecture. Through the permanent art program, Arts for Transit works closely with the architects and engineers at MTA New York City Transit, MTA Long Island Rail Road, and MTA Metro-North Railroad to determine the parameters and sites for the artwork that is to be incorporated into each station scheduled for renovation. Artists are chosen through a competitive process that uses selection panels, comprised of visual arts professionals and community representatives, which review and select artists. Depending upon the project, artists may be considered through an Open Call or Invitational process.

(excerpted from the MTA site   http://www.mta.info/mta/aft/permanentart/)


(above) On the N, R, W lines the 59th Street/Lexington Avenue street station  (connecting tunnel) Blooming by Elizabeth Murray. (above left) is a detail from an adjacent wall.

Your next assignment is to propose art for a train station of your choosing.

•    Research your station
•    Propose your project/sketches
•    Finished art, including your images/project in place in the station (via Photoshop)

  1. Pick a station. Research the history of the area/subway stop. The stops for Chinatown, Coney Island, Wall Street etc. might seem to have an obvious history, but was Wall Street always the financial district? Some smaller less famous stations serve very interesting communities rich in history and events,(some quirky) so don’t overlook them.  Did you know there are a large number of abandoned stations?
  2. Go to the station, take lots of pictures for reference, as well as to use later when you place your art in the station via photoshop. Here is a link info on the legalities of Photography in the subway http://www.nycsubway.org/faq/photopermits.html

  • Think about a concept, a theme,  that will tie your images together for your station vs. a single image  that is scaled up.Remember, your art should address the community and reference it’s history, and social culture. The subway station you choose is not simply a canvas for your own art. Your art is serving/celebrating/commenting on the station’s population.
  • How will your concept be integrated with the architecture of the station. For an example; Is there a long hallway that might add to your concept?  Stairs? Lots of niches? What about the floor or ceiling? Several station artists have made use of the railings and grill work of gates. Look at  A Gathering by Walter Martin and Paloma Munoz on the A line at Canal street.
  • Graffiti-  No graffiti as a solution to this assignment. I agree that there are some phenomenal work being done out there. Graffiti is a part of the subways history. It can also be a cliche.  Use it for another assignment. If you want to talk about this come see me.


(above) On the A line,  the 14thSt. station. Life Underground by Tom Otterness.  Bronze sculpture on railings, beams, and columns throughout station.


A complete guide of all the art at stations:   http://www.nycsubway.org/perl/artwork

This commissioning process:http://www.mta.info/mta/aft/permanentart/

The photos above are from the MTA Arts for Transit  website


(above) On the N line,  our class at the Canal St. station. Looking at the Ceramic Tiles by Bing Lee, titled  ” Empress Voyage” .



(above) The class in front of Blooming by Elizabeth Murray. (59th Street/Lex)



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