A Rail Treasure: Curated Art at Moynihan Hall and Penn Sta.

New curated pieces at Penn Station and the Moynihan Train Hall combine train travel, animation and a new look at the globe. There is an LED display above the rotunda in Moynihan Hall called “The Signing Suns” that changes every 15 minutes plus new art in the Amtrak concourse in Penn Station and its first class passenger longue.

| 16 Nov 2023 | 03:07

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Two current Art at Amtrak installations are on view on the Amtrak level in Penn Station with the works of two metro area artists, David Rios Ferreira and Shoshanna Weinberger. A third work is a massive LED display in the Moynihan Train Hall while a fourth is on display in the Metropolitan Longue open to first class passengers.

Art Gallery 1–Amtrak level of Penn Station

Rios Ferreira’s “Get Carried Away, You Have the Right” turns the utilitarian Amtrak rotunda at Penn Station into a cosmic gateway utilizing many different facets from Mesoamerican art, Taino petroglyphs, and movie cartoons to Amtrak artifacts from the past 50 years. Throughout this installation, sharp-eyed viewers may spot maps, trains, and design elements taken from previous Amtrak menus, ticket stubs and route brochures.

In an exclusive interview with Straus News, Ferreira detailed what made the work come together in nine months. For him, it was a huge challenge, working with a huge number of disparate elements, including Amtrak large scale drawings and snippets from many ancient and modern cultures. He said he wanted “to feel connected” to the installation as a unique artwork. Within the Penn Station rotunda, there are panels with serpents on side panels, which he noted as the transportation of time. It’s a cross between the seriousness of engineering and the light hearted medium of cartooning.

In the other Penn Station installation on view in the Eighth Avenue concourse, “Traveling Along Horizons,” Weinberger explores time and travel between sunrise and sunset. The Yale-educated artist accentuates stripe patterns, which signify societal division by race, gender, class, politics, and more. The concourse columns offer various figures symbolizing marginalized bodies. As a Caribbean-American artist she says she has a unique perspective on society. When Straus News spoke with her, she noted other elements to the installation. While the subject matter is serious, she noted that near the police desk at that concourse, the panels have a large numbers of bars and stripes, and the panels used are blue. The colors used on the overhead panels run from before sunrise to after sunset. If you look at the column panels, the model is Shoshanna, herself, noting that female bodies “are the ones holding up civilization.”

The stripes and bars are also thematic, using 7, 12 and 24, noting the days of the week, months of the year, and hours of the day. And if you look at some of the panels closely, some of them are made to look like “windows on a train,” she said. They are drawn from the many rides she has taken between her base in Newark and Penn Station NY.

Art Gallery 2—Moynihan Train Hall

To complete the unique art pieces in both terminals, one of them is displayed at Moynihan’s exclusive Metropolitan Lounge, is a new work from multi disciplinary visual artist Karen Margolis. To see this piece, you will need a first class Amtrak ticket, but treat yourself—it’s worth it.

Should you have one, you are in for a visual feast. Each component (there are four) measures over six feet in length and height; it is the latest from Margolis’ Continuum series and includes handmade linen, abaca laminated over wire, maps, cotton-covered wire, acrylic, chicken wire, thread and found materials worked into a form that dissolves into nebulous clouds of color and texture.

In keeping with the current round of art, trains get into the act; this installation includes map fragments of Amtrak stops all over the country as a way of bringing people and places together. The collective series represents a blueprint of metaphysical possibilities for repairing tears in the fabric of the universe. Newly installed and running through the Holiday Season is Manhattanite Artist Shazia Sikander’s video “The Signing Suns,” which can be viewed on the Moynihan Train Hall’s huge video screen at fifteen-minute intervals. Ms. Sikander has created a melange of Indian art, time and space, with particles in saffron and gold leaf color variations that become a static feminine image. MacArthur Fellowship-winning Sikander’s artistry has launched the form known today as neo-miniature, bringing older Indo-Persian manuscript-painting into current art styling. As Amtrak explained, the iconography is born from separating the silhouette of the head from the body of the female characters called “gopis” who are often painted as devotees of the singular male god Krishna. Sikander removed Krishna from the equation and detatched the “gopis” hair from the “gopis” body. The notion is to unhinge so the female account is freed to create its own history and empower its own narrative, Amtrak explained in a press release.

In September, her video presentation, “Reckoning,” was a daily part of “Midnight Moment,” the world’s largest and longest-running digital public art program. “Disruption as a means of exploration” is a consistent element in Sikander’s experimental process strategy. During these cooler months, until the New Year, you are able to gaze at this newest work of hers, under a roof, in the well-heated space of the Moynihan Train Hall.

The Art at Amtrak Program nationally is curated by Debra Simon Art Consulting, who continues to make sure the exceptional talent of local artists across New York City and New Jersey is available at both Manhattan facilities to travelers, who benefit from seeing the art on their journeys.