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Public Art Program Launches at New York Penn Station

By June 30, 2022 No Comments
Saya Woolfalk’s The Empathics focuses on natural healing.

NEW YORK CITY – Amtrak has inaugurated “Art at Amtrak,” a year-round public art initiative that will bring a variety of visual works to New York Penn Station 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 Sharon Tepper, Amtrak director, planning and development, New York Penn Station. “This new initiative turns functional space into a site for contemporary art that engages local and regional communities and visitors from around the world.”

Located in multiple areas in the station’s upper level, the program opened in June 2022 with two installations from visionary artists Dahlia Elsayed and Saya Woolfalk. Their work remains on view until mid-September, when new installations will be unveiled.

Elsayed’s vibrant work, Parallel Incantations, surrounds the Amtrak concourse 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. “I wanted to make a visual poem for a waiting area – the space between coming and going, and to create a place within a physical transportation hub for viewers to be transported sensorially,” says Elsayed.

In the nearby rotunda, Woolfalk’s The Empathics focuses 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. “My installation at Penn Station will be a fantastical immersive experience people will encounter as they go about their daily routines,” says Woolfalk. “It is my hope to offer everyone a moment of respite, beauty and nature in the middle of the built urban environment.”

Amtrak has engaged Debra Simon Art Consulting with producer Common Ground Arts to curate and produce the new public art program, and the Art at Amtrak advisory committee comprises art world and local community leaders.

Over the last five years, Amtrak has made more than $300 million in capital improvement investments at 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.

Posted June 30, 2022