New Initiative Commissions Regional Artists to Create Large-Scale, Site-Specific Installations for One of New York’s Busiest Locations
NEW YORK – Amtrak today announced Art at Amtrak, a year-round public art initiative that will bring a variety of visual works to New York Penn Station (NYP) and provide an unparalleled creative platform for New York and New Jersey artists. Building upon the highly successful public art program at Moynihan Train Hall, the rotating temporary installations commissioned for Art at Amtrak will further enliven the hub that serves as the front door to New York City.
“Art at Amtrak continues our commitment to ensuring all rail travelers have a modern, inspiring, safe and accessible experience and a proper entrance to the cultural capital of the world,” said Amtrak Director, Planning and Development, New York Penn Station Sharon Tepper. “This new initiative turns functional space into a site for contemporary art that engages local and regional communities and visitors from around the world.”
Situated in multiple locations in the station’s upper level, the program will launch in June and showcase the creative vibrancy and diversity of the region while welcoming travelers. The first two installations are from two visionary artists: Dahlia Elsayed and Saya Woolfalk. Their work remains on view until mid-September, when new installations will be unveiled.
Over the last five years, Amtrak has made more than $300 million in capital improvement investments at New York Penn Station, in addition to its investment in Moynihan Train Hall. These include a new ticketed waiting area for Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT passengers, new wayfinding and signage throughout the facility, improved accessibility, including renovations of elevators and escalators, and major rail State-of-Good-Repair improvements to enhance the reliability of service.
Dahlia Elsayed’s vibrant work, Parallel Incantations, surrounds a Penn Station waiting area with an illusion of infinite space. It pulls inspiration from ancient Egyptian temples and Islamic architecture, transforming the space with suggestions of expansiveness, air, and ambient light. For Art at Amtrak, Saya Woolfalk focused on natural healing and the innate human instinct to connect with nature. She created a series of new digital collages simulating a natural environment, designed by using the forms and patterns of medicinal plants found in New York and New Jersey, as well as local landscape scenes depicted in the paintings of Hudson River School artists from the mid-19th century.
Amtrak has engaged Debra Simon Art Consulting with producer Common Ground Arts to curate and produce the new public art program. Simon was Director of Public Art at the Times Square Alliance, created Arts Brookfield, the largest privately funded public art program in the United States, and co-founded the River to River festival.
The Art at Amtrak advisory committee comprises art-world and local-community leaders including Livia Alexander (Director, Visual and Critical Studies, Montclair State University), Christine Blanco (Assistant Director of Facility Signage and Transit Arts Programs, New Jersey Transit), Sandra Bloodworth (Director, MTA Arts & Design, Metropolitan Transportation Authority), Danielle Bursk (Director of Artist Services & Public Arts Inclusion, New Jersey State Council on the Arts), Gonzalo Casals (Senior Research and Policy Fellow, Arts and Culture Mellon Foundation), Willie Cole (perceptual engineer, artist, designer), Megan Lione (Community Board 5), John Hatfield (Executive Director, Silver Art Projects), Kendal Henry (Assistant Commissioner of Public Art, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs), Lisa Kim (Gallery Director, Ford Foundation), and Sarah Mills (Community Board 4).