The Art of the Second Avenue Subway

The Art of the Second Avenue Subway



in commissioning art for the second Avenue subway we had an opportunity like never before we have these four major stations where we could Commission artists to make a statement like no other mosaics are very ancient art form traditional to the New York City subway system they are durable they stand up to the very challenging environments that we have within the transit system and the work that was completed really pushes the boundaries of what mosaic can do at each of the four stations we are very proud to have been able to commissioned gene shin Vik Muniz Chuck Close and Sarah C for the artwork for the second Avenue subway Jeanne's shin looked at the transformation of the community from when the elevated trains were demolished which can be seen in her mosaic and ceramic tile and glass throughout the station I wanted the viewer who is gonna be going underground to kind of have a moment of an experience that is no longer there as you descend down to the mezzanine level you were filled with a mosaic of skies and beautiful New York landscape seeing mirrors of other New Yorkers among them who are both present but also historically in the past a lot of this was taking this photographs and then extracting them and then doing the design work on the computer creating a new collage a new landscape I hired fabricators mosaic artists another ceramic artists and glass artists and they really translate my designs into their work this is why I do the work I do its art for the people Vik Muniz is an artist that worked in a number of ways with photography and sort of how you look at art so we knew we would have something interesting I thought of creating these effigies of people that would be life-sized so they would mix with the flowing passages and this is on 72nd and Second Avenue there's a lot of social and ethnic or diversity there so we wanted to work with all these elements to produce a gamma of characters that would represent the people who use the station even though I'm a photographer I've been a mosaic artist all my life as a whole there are over 3,000 characters there at the same time long day in common and surprising people who we would expect to find in a train station and not as an artwork the interesting role of the MTA is that artists are selected to create artwork and then they work with fabricators craftsmen who really know their field the artists worked very very closely with each of the fabricators thinking about how they could translate their work into this new medium of glass and ceramic mosaic at 86th street– Chuck Close his work is this incredible realization of his work he is actually taking mosaic and glass for the very first time and reimagining what they can mean I love the highlights with my glasses down I have like 12 new pairs of glasses so I was thinking every month you should swap out the glasses my thinking was a I wanted mosaics upstairs to reflect the ridership in the cars poloz old people young people baby asian black woman black man someone from out of left field like posing but the other thing was I wanted to do as much as possible each piece in the different methodology close has been able to take the medium of mosaic and push it to new levels Chuck Close spent his whole career looking at faces and painting portraits so as you go through the station it's almost like a class and how one artist looked at people over decades Zehra named her peace blueprint for a landscape and she consciously wanted blue it's the color used in traditional ceramic making and in architecture and blueprints and she wanted this piece to unspool like a set of plans what's really exciting to me about this project is this idea that the entire subway station can become an immersive experience the next time you come and you can go into another and turn the other exit and you have a different experience of really the same world but in a different phase or a different time of day so throughout all of the images there's a overall thrust in the composition but in the details you find very familiar objects to find feathers or paper or chairs so this idea that I could do every entrance way and the mezzanine level as well and that the work could have been fold over a movement through the station maybe you don't realize what your experience of it until the third time you go through the space but that he grow over time and the luxury of having repeat visits of having that kind of time it's like no other place the second Avenue subway is this incredible opportunity to build a subway line that's been in the works for many many years to incorporate artwork into brand-new stations and to make people feel like they are connected to their fellow New Yorkers subway as you fly swiftly underground with a song in your ears or lost in the maze of a book remember the ones who descended here into the mire of bedrock to bore a hole through this granite to clear a passage for you where there was only darkness and stone remember as you come up into you

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