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Quiet Panels: NYC Subway Edition

The New York City Subway is many things at once: a bustling network of interconnected trains, a shared experience with fellow New Yorkers and tourists, and at times, a living nightmare. To help ease the pain of commutes and diminishing personal space, the MTA started the Art Card Program in 1999, to give commuters something whimsical, fantastical and/or just plain beautiful to look at.

I was staring dreamily at one of these Art Cards when I realized, “hey, I know that artist!” Multi-award winning artist Jillian Tamaki's "Platform" offers her signature style while capturing vignettes of waiting for the subway. The comic strip panel-style brilliantly stitches together separate scenes but can be viewed as one instance of New Yorkers catching the train.

I was thinking back on other Art Cards I've seen over the years and wondered what other book illustrators and authors were hiding in plain sight. What follows are nine artists and their subway Art Cards along with highlights of other works in the NYPL collection. Click on the book images to take you right to the catalog!

Jillian Tamaki

Platform by Jillian Tamaki

James Gulliver Hancock

Walking New York by James Gulliver Hancock

Sophie Blackall

Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall

Chris Gall

In Flight by Chris Gall

R. Gregory Christie

The Subway Soirée by R. Gregory Christie

Frank Viva

Sightseeing by Frank Viva

Peter Sís

James Ransome

Hudson River by James Ransome

Red Nose Studio

The Blowing Bowler by Red Nose Studio

In addition, Red Nose Studio created a 2-minute companion film to the Art Card The Blowing Bowler. See it in person at the top of every hour at the Fulton Center.

The Blowing Bowler from RedNoseStudio on Vimeo.

Animation commissioned by MTA Arts&Design for The Fulton Center

Read more about the Art Underground!

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