MTA Press Releases

Press Release
December 4, 2015
Photography Exhibit at Grand Central Offers Contemporary Look at Beams of Sunlight
New MTA Arts & Design Lightbox Installation by Penelope Umbrico Highlights Vintage Grand Central Photographs

MTA Arts & Design announced today a new photography exhibit at Grand Central Terminal by photographer Penelope Umbrico in an expansion of her similarly themed artwork that was part of the terminal’s centennial celebration in 2013.

The exhibit, titled “Four Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central,” was installed in lightboxes in the terminal’s East Dining Concourse. These photographs, which were produced exclusively for this exhibit, are related to Umbrico’s work for the centennial’s time-themed exhibit titled “On Time/Grand Central at 100.” That show in 2013 was curated by MTA Arts & Design at the New York Transit Museum Gallery.

“Four Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central” is Umbrico’s interpretation of photographs dating from the early- to mid-1900s that show angled beams of sunlight hitting the terminal’s Main Concourse. Umbrico, a New York City resident, was interested in the multiplicity and variety of images and how they take new form as their original integrity is seen through new treatments. For “Four Rays,” four different photographs of sun beams in Grand Central were selected, then hundreds of images based on the original four were chosen from online searches. Umbrico digitally altered the images using tinting, cropping and framing and arranged them into one-dimensional grids. A separate panel lists the attribution for each image’s variation.

The result of her arrangements is a compilation that shows how the sun’s rays track time as seen through the tools of the Internet age, making it timeless and ever-changing.

“This is a novel way of presenting an iconic Grand Central image, filtered through a contemporary way that we absorb visual information. Penelope Umbrico prompts the viewer to take a closer look at how photography, memory and image-making are joined and indexed,” said Amy Hausmann, Deputy Director of MTA Arts & Design.

Umbrico’s previous work for the Grand Central centennial in 2013 featured framed variations of the angled sunlight photographs, also mined from web searches and digitally altered and cropped, but arranged and mounted in a single-wall grid.

Umbrico graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, and received her master of fine arts from New York’s School of Visual Arts. She has participated extensively in solo and group exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 in New York, and her work is in the collections of museums such as the Guggenheim Museum (New York), International Center of Photography (New York), McNay Art Museum (San Antonio, Texas), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (Calif.), and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Calif.). She is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts’ MFA photography, video, and related media program.

MTA Arts & Design’s lightbox project exhibits photography at four locations within the transit system: 4 Subway5 Subway6 Subway7 SubwayS Subway Grand Central-42 St, B SubwayD SubwayF SubwayM Subway 42 St-Bryant Park, B SubwayD SubwayN SubwayQ SubwayR Subway2 Subway3 Subway4 Subway5 Subway Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and 4 Subway5 Subway Bowling Green. New artworks are installed annually at each location. The new lightbox exhibit at Grand Central was sponsored by Kodak alaris and Duggal.


ABOUT MTA Arts & Design
MTA Arts & Design, encourages the use of mass transit in the metropolitan New York area by providing visual and performing arts in the transit environment. The percent for art program is one of the largest and most diverse collections of site-specific public art in the world, with more than 300 works by world famous, mid-career and emerging artists. Arts & Design also produces graphic art, photography installations and live musical performances in stations, and relaunched the Poetry in Motion program in collaboration the Poetry Society of America. Arts & Design serves more than 8 million people who ride MTA subways and commuter trains daily and strives to create meaningful connections between sites, neighborhoods, and people. For more information, please visit

"Four Rays of Sunlight in Grand Central" by Penelope Umbrico
Credit: MTA Arts & Design