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MTA Arts & Design


Harlem - 125 Street

Alison Saar

Hear the Lone Whistle Moan, 1991

Bronze grilles and reliefs on platforms

Saar's work consists of figures standing against a grille as they wait on the north and south platforms.

The title, Hear the Lone Whistle Moan, is from a spiritual that uses the train as a metaphor for the passage to heaven. Trains have often been associated by African Americans with escape and the Underground Railroad in particular. In the words of the artist, "...these pieces...create a simple narrative of two people. One, the young woman coming to the city in hopes of advancing her career, the other, a successful businessman leaving the city to return to his hometown. I believe these two scenarios to be examples of how many Americans have used the railroads to and from New York throughout history. Yet I was also addressing the specific and rich tradition of the role of the railroad in general in the lives of African Americans." A third figure is of a conductor at the top of the platform stairs.

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