MTA & Whitney Museum Of American Art Celebrate Art In The Subway

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Published on May 31, 2024, 1:07 pm
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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced a partnership with the Whitney Museum of American Art to bring its landmark exhibition, the Whitney Biennial, into the subway system. “Making It Here: New York and the Whitney Biennial” will showcase work by artists who have been or currently are featured in the Biennial. A special exhibition in vinyl comprised of artworks and accompanying text is now visible on structures that were previously used as newsstands as part of the MTA’s program to bring arts and culture to former retail spaces. Additionally, the Whitney will offer in-station art-making activities at select stations throughout the summer.

“Working with the Whitney and other organizations is an opportunity to build cultural and community connections and enliven stations with special installations and events,” said MTA Arts & Design Director Sandra Bloodworth. “Through this partnership and the MTA’s creative approach to revitalizing underutilized retail sites, we’re using the power of art to make these transit spaces welcoming for our riders, which has been central to the Arts & Design team’s mission for nearly 40 years.”

“Many landlords that experienced vacancies during and still after the pandemic found creative ways to activate their ground floor retail space,” said MTA Chief Administrative Officer Lisette Camilo. “The case of the subway system was no different. The MTA has been working to provide amenities for our riders wherever possible, like our move away from the old newsstands to the grab and go retail that has been taking place. Where that has not been possible, the MTA is seeking out different, outside the box, activations to enliven our subway spaces for our customers.”

“At the Whitney, we are thrilled to partner with the MTA to bring the excitement of the Whitney Biennial to more New Yorkers,” said Deputy Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art I.D. Aruede. “This collaboration is part of the Museum’s ongoing commitment to making the work of contemporary American artists more accessible—as we do with our new free admission initiatives and other projects—and forwards our mission of celebrating artists and creativity.”

The Whitney exhibition is installed at three stations across three boroughs. The W. 4 Street abcdefm station in Manhattan, the Jay Street – MetroTech r station in Brooklyn and the Fordham Road 4 station in the Bronx. Four of the six artworks featured are by artists included in MTA Arts & Design’s collection.

  • Artwork by Eamon Ore-Giron, an artist currently featured in the Whitney Biennial 2024: Even Better Than the Real Thing, can be seen on temporary display at the W. 4 Street station. A 24-panel mosaic artwork by Ore-Giron, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design is always on view at the Bay Parkway n station. 
  • Also on display at W. 4 Street are artworks from the Whitney’s collection by Jane Dickson and Roy Lichtenstein. MTA Arts & Design has permanent works by both artists at the Times Square – 42 Street acenqrw123 station. 
  • Alex Katz, whose permanent artwork in hand painted glass can be seen at the 57 Street f station, will be featured in a temporary display at the Fordham Road 4 station.

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To date, MTA Arts & Design has commissioned nearly 400 permanent artworks, including 54 by artists who have been featured in the Whitney Biennial, the longest running survey of contemporary art in the United States. All 54 artworks are included in an online map feature of public works by Biennial artists that highlights the legacies that are now part of the fabric of New York. Additional examples of works by artists in the Whitney Biennial include:  

  • Jeffery Gibson at the Astoria Boulevard nw station;
  • Romare Bearden at the Westchester Square 6 station;
  • Vito Acconci at the 161 Street – Yankee Stadium 4bd station;
  • Sarah Sze at the 96 Street q station;
  • Al Loving at the Broadway Junction acjzl station;
  • Robert Wilson at the Coney Island – Stillwell Avenue dfnq station; 
  • James Little at the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station; 
  • Alison Saar at the Harlem – 125 Street Metro-North station.

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On Saturday, June 1, 2024, the MTA and Whitney will host art-making activities at the Union Square – 14 Street station. Participants will be able to decorate tote bags with stamps made from fruits and vegetables between 10:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., or until tote bags run out. Events will be held at the New York Botanical Gardens on Saturday, June 29, 2024, The New York Transit Museum on Saturday, July 27, 2024, and the 34th Street – Hudson Yards subway station later this summer. 

Late last year, the MTA issued a public offering seeking arts, cultural and community uses in former retail spaces in the subway. An initial partner, ChaShaMa, a non-profit organization that provides artists with affordable workspaces, has installations at 5 Avenue and 53 Street in Manhattan and 63 Drive – Rego Park in Queens, as well as a retail activation in Grand Central Terminal.

The vacant retail activation initiative aims to fill vacant former retail spaces in the subway system with creative and non-traditional ideas to make stations more welcoming for customers. Interested parties can learn more here.

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