MTA Arts for Transit Unveils New Papercut Exhibition at Grand Central
October 15th, 2013
MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design has unveiled an exhibition featuring the work of four noted contemporary artists working with the technique of paper-cutting to render their intricate and detailed subject matter. The exhibit is called On Paper/ Grand Central at 100 and can be viewed in the Lightboxes located in the Dining Concourse on the lower level of Grand Central Terminal.
Papercut art is an ancient craft that has been rediscovered by contemporary artists and reinterpreted here in illuminated Lightboxes. The exquisite detail and time involved in creating such works echo and reflect the passage of time in an architectural marvel where time takes on special meaning. Together, the exhibit reveals ideas about time and space, while using a contemporary art form that echoes the high level of craftsmanship in the terminal’s architecture and decorative elements, many of which were carved, not from paper, but marble.
“The Lightboxes at Grand Central are seen by many of the 700,000 visitors to Grand Central every day,” said Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts for Transit and Urban Design. “This is a unique opportunity to showcase original papercut works in celebration of Grand Central’s Centennial. The quality of the work by the artists in this exhibition is stunning and in keeping with the architectural heritage of this beloved place.”
The four artists – Laura Cooperman, Rob Ryan, Xin Song, and Thomas Witte –present original artwork inspired by Grand Central. The artists used Grand Central as their point of departure and source of inspiration with beautifully expressed works drawn from family memories, the grandeur of the Terminal’s architecture, the celestial vaulted ceiling and the romance of this fabled place.
Created in black-and-white paper cutout, each artwork is composed of four panels set in the lightbox windows that flank the dining concourse. Lightboxes are lit from behind, thus highlighting the negative spaces that are removed by cutting, and bringing them to prominence. The exhibit is the first time the space will be used to display original artwork; the spaces are usually programmed to showcase photographic work.
Laura Cooperman is inspired by the simplicity of the melon lights she saw in family photos of her grandparents and father growing up in New York City. Entitled Overhead, the work is a nod to Grand Central’s inspired use of electricity (to modernize the grand space for over a century.) A celebration of Grand Central’s history and the passage of time, Overhead consists of a variety of light bulbs hand cut from paper that reveal negative space, set atop a cityscape, which is then illuminated by light from behind.
Known for his use of whimsical figures paired with sentimental, honest, and occasionally humorous writing, artist Rob Ryan created There Is Only Time to connect with people who are constantly rushing, trying to make it on time. Four incredibly intricate paper-cut panels depict scenes of daily happenings occurring under the clock. Smaller writings run across the top of each panel with a large initial connecting each piece with a central theme – There Is Only Time. The work is also Ryan’s response to poet Philip Larkin’s line, “where can we live but days?” Time can be seen as a place rather than just a concept. In time, Grand Central is a place where countless moments and memories conglomerate.
Time · Light · Gate · Clock is a spectacular and theatrical work that conveys the reflection of life both from above and below. Artist Xin Song conveys the eternal quality of the heavenly ceiling and light that shines through the grand windows of the terminal. Trained in traditional papercut in Beijing, Xin Song juxtaposes the abstract quality of the architectural details with the silhouettes of the onlookers cut in traditional technique, generating a dynamic play of positive and negative spaces with the aid of light from behind. In 2012, Song completed a permanent art project for the Bay Parkway station on the Subway Line Icon subway line. The work transformed the colorful imagery of photos taken around the community into an intricate paper-cut work, creating a symmetrical and vibrant flowering tree.
Based on photographs taken around the Terminal in summer of 2013, Cutting Shadows by Thomas Witte is an interpretation of Grand Central in papercut, which makes it a unique work that documents the 100th birthday of Grand Central Terminal. Cutting Shadows also marks a point of departure in Witte’s artistic approach of paper-cutting. Rather than creating the illusion of light by removing paper, he utilized the actual light as a medium adding another layer of his work. The result is a multi-layered cut paper work that invites the viewer to explore the intricate details of a very familiar place.
On Paper/Grand Central at 100 has been on display from September 27, 2013, and will remain on view through September, 2014. Please visit Arts for Transit and Urban Design for more information, or download Meridian Arts for Transit App.