I was going through Penn Station on my way to The Met the other day, when I noticed all of these faces and leaves in the main waiting area near the NJ Transit and Amtrak train tracks. I thought the style looked familiar, and my first guess was the artist Derrick Adams, which turned out to be correct.
It turns out that this art installation is a commission by Amtrak, for a year-round public art initiative that they call “Art at Amtrak.” The program invites artists from New York and New Jersey to create original art specifically for Penn Station, with the goal to “… energize trips through the Western Hemisphere’s busiest train station in the most creative city in the world.” In this case, Derrick Adams calls his installation “The City Is My Refuge,” and shows faces peeking out from dense groupings of leaves. I liked how the faces are seen at all different levels, including on columns close to the ground (see below), like they’re sneaking a peek at us as we shuffle our feet past them on our way someplace else.
Derrick Adams is a Baltimore-born, Brooklyn-based artist who reportedly is a frequent passenger on Amtrak’s train service between New York City and Baltimore. Adams’ art work spans painting, collage, sculpture, performance, video, and sound installations, and from what I understand, this installation at Penn Station includes an audio component that will be accessible via QR code – which I didn’t see on this particular pass-through, but will look for it the next time. To learn more about the artist Derrick Adams, check out his bio page on his website here.