You are reading

Artwork Thanking Public Service Workers Goes Up at Subway Stations and Queens Museum

Queens Museum, Corona. (Image_ Hai Zhang via Queens Museum)

Sep. 9, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

A new art project paying homage to public service workers has gone up at subway stations across the city and at the Queens Museum in Corona.

The art initiative displays a message of thanks aimed at city staff – particularly sanitation and transit workers – who have kept basic services going through the pandemic.

The message reads: Dear Service Worker, “Thank you for keeping NYC alive!” For —–> forever…

The art has been on display since Tuesday, and can be found on 2,000 digital billboards throughout the MTA subway and rail system. The digital signage is up at locations where many service workers pass each day.

Three large yellow banners containing the message have gone up across the 200-foot-long glass facade of the Queens Museum which faces the Grand Central Parkway.

Thousands of drivers will see the sign daily as they drive along the Parkway, according to the Queens Museum, MTA Arts and Design and Times Square Arts which collaborated on the project.

The “For —–> forever…” component of the message is also running every 15 minutes on the large scale digital billboard at 20 Times Square, which rises 120 feet over the plazas of Times Square.

WTC Cortlandt station. (Marc A. Hermann, MTA New York City Transit)

The artwork was designed by Mierle Laderman Ukeles and is written in the artist’s handwriting.

“For —–> forever…” commemorates the efforts of workers and represents a continuation of Ukeles’ long-standing dedication of honoring the city public service workers through her art.

Ukeles, 80, has been the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence at the DSNY since 1977 and has been highlighting the work of maintenance and sanitation workers throughout her career.

One of her best-known projects is “Touch Sanitation” which captures her shaking hands with all 8,500 DSNY employees in 1979-1980. She thanks each worker for “keeping New York City alive.”

She said that her statement back then – when the city also plunged into a fiscal and sanitation crisis – has become relevant once again.

“The city’s infrastructure service workers are physically out there working every day to make sure our city remains a living entity,” Ukeles said.

The MTA said that the displays will provide those employees who are keeping the city moving with a boost. The agency praised Ukeles for striving to highlight their work to the public.

“With the incredible heroism and tireless work of subway, bus and rail employees, this pointed acknowledgment of their work is relevant and necessary right in the space where they work or commute,” Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts and Design said.

Sally Tallant, Queens Museum President and Executive Director, echoed those sentiments and said that the project builds on Ukeles’ retrospective artwork which went up at the museum in 2017.

“This message will flow through the infrastructure of the city as New York recovers,” Tallant said.

Digital art project by artist Mierle Laderman Ukele at the WTC Cortlandt station. (Image: Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Op-Ed: This Year’s State Budget Must Prioritize Climate, Jobs, and Justice for New York

Op-Ed, Jan. 30, By Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas

In a time of rampant economic inequality and environmental injustice, it is easy to feel defeated.  Here in Queens and across New York State, however, communities are organizing for a better future. New Yorkers from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences are proving that we can build community, organize, and create a future that reflects our shared values.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Raga sworn in as first-ever Filipino American elected to the state Legislature

More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.

Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.