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Carrying On: Art Under SoHo Broadway

Photography by Brad Paris

One of the many reasons SoHo is such a popular neighborhood is that it is serviced by so many subway lines making it easy for people to get to SoHo from pretty much anywhere in NYC.

The Prince Street subway station (N, R and W trains), in the heart of the SoHo Broadway corridor, opened on September 4, 1917, as part of the first section of the BMT Broadway Line from Canal Street to 14th Street–Union Square. Countless people, residents, commuters, and tourists, have entered and exited this station over the years. But have you noticed the subtle artwork that can be found along the station’s walls?  How many can name the artists who created this work?

A segment of “Carrying On” by Janet Zweig in collaboration with Edward del Rosario

Along the uptown and downtown platforms of the Prince Street Station is a 2004 frieze entitled “Carrying On” by Janet Zweig in collaboration with Edward del Rosario. According to Zweig’s website:

The frieze at the Prince Street subway station celebrates the individuality of New Yorkers. Spanning the 1200 foot 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. The collection of figures as a whole conveys the range of New York’s distinctive population.

The title of the piece is intended as a triple entendre: New Yorkers are always carrying things, from bags to pets to furniture; New Yorkers have also stoically carried on post 9/11;  and New Yorkers are famous for carrying on and on about this or that in lively conversation. For the piece, over 2000 New Yorkers were photographed, of which 194 of the most “evocative” were chosen to be depicted in the installation.

In addition to carrying everything including the kitchen sink with them on the subway, New Yorkers are also known for zoning out when commuting. But sometimes it’s definitely worth it to look up!

 

Carrying On was commissioned as part of MTA Arts & Design program, which was created in the 1980s to install permanent public artworks in subway and train stations and has more than 300 works by a wide range of artists. Janet Zweig was born in Milwaukee but came to New York City in 1994 via Chicago where she has been creating work exclusively in the public realm.

Yukie Ohta is founder of SoHo Memory Project

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