The frieze at the Prince Street subway station celebrates the significance and individuality of the citizens of New York. Spanning the entire length of the two platforms, it depicts 194 silhouetted people and the many things they carry as they walk along the street above the station. The figures are taken from photographs of New Yorkers in all their variety; each one is unique. The collection of figures as a whole conveys the wide range of New York's distinctive population.
The figures are arranged as a 1200 foot narrative that contains smaller dramatic narratives within it. As the figures reach the intersection of Broadway and Prince Street, the ground line they walk on descends into the station via two staircases to an image of the very platform where the viewers of the frieze are standing.
To make the frieze, more than two thousand New Yorkers were photographed walking along the street carrying everything from a sofa to a cello to the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag; collecting the garbage to walking their dogs. Over 600 of those photographs were outlined in the computer. From those, 194 were selected as the most evocative, varied, and visually readable. In order to develop the overall visual rhythm and small interactions among the figures, a linear composition was designed both in the computer and on site.
For the installation, some of the existing white subway tiles were removed and replaced with new identical tiles that had been cut out in the shape of the figures and the things they carry, in precise detail. Corresponding stainless steel, marble, and slate shapes were placed in those spaces like puzzle pieces, making it appear that the figures are embedded in the walls. A continuous 1/4 inch checked ground line made of tiny black and ivory tiles was also embedded in the wall.
The title, Carrying On, is a triple pun. People on the streets of New York are almost always carrying something, sometimes something huge and outlandish. After the 9/11 tragedy in New York, New Yorkers felt that they must carry on with their lives. (The frieze was begun just before the tragedy and finished three years later.) Finally, New Yorkers are notoriously opinionated and lively; they really do "carry on."
project managers: Kendal Henry and Erica Behrens