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MTA Arts & Design


Broadway-Lafayette Street/Bleecker Street

Mel Chin

Signal, 1997

Stainless steel and glass sculpture with lights on mezzanine column bases; ceramic tile on station walls

In Signal, artist Mel Chin, collaborating with Seneca tribe member Peter Jemison, draws upon the rich history of the Broadway and Lafayette crossroads, once a trading route for the tribes of the Six Nations. The mezzanine wall tiles depict figures from the nations with arms out-stretched to one another. The main concourse has conical forms at the base of support pillars shaped like campfires, used to send signals. Lights within these "campfires" brighten as trains approach and dim as they leave. Patterns within the steel forms derive from tribal badge patterns, that were based on a fusion of cultures. Another historical overlay is in the tile patterns around the concourse, they evoke rising smoke while the pattern is inspired by an Iroquois message of peace. In the artist's words, art should "provoke greater social awareness and responsibility," and this work demonstrates how this can be accomplished.

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