Art at Amtrak - New York Penn Station
Art at Amtrak invites artists from New York and New Jersey to create original art specifically for Penn Station. Building upon the highly successful public art program at Moynihan Train Hall, these Penn Station projects aim to energize trips through the Western Hemisphere’s busiest train station in the most creative city in the world.
Art at Amtrak is curated by Debra Simon Art Consulting and produced by Common Ground Arts.
Spring 2023 Artwork
The City is My Refuge, 2023
Digital print on vinyl adhesive film
Concourse & Rotunda
Born in Baltimore in 1970, Derrick Adams is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work spans painting, collage, sculpture, performance, video and sound. Adams obtained his BFA from the Pratt Institute and MFA from Columbia University. Amtrak has commissioned Adams to create an expansive new work called The City Is My Refuge, marking the first time that a single artist has taken over the entire concourse level of the station to create a truly immersive experience.
Adams, a frequent rider of Amtrak between New York City and Baltimore, has created an installation that highlights the wonders of the urban environment available to city dwellers and visitors if one seeks and discovers them. The City Is My Refuge reframes the city as a place where the natural world shares space with humanity, and where one can find peace and joy.
Adams says, “I’m excited by the opportunity Art at Amtrak offers to share my work with the enormous public that passes through New York Penn Station each day. I hope The City Is My Refuge gives everyone what the city gives to me: a sense of wonder, purpose and connection.”
About the Artist
Derrick Adams is a Baltimore-born, Brooklyn, New York-based artist whose critically admired work spans painting, collage, sculpture, performance, video and sound installations. His multidisciplinary practice engages the ways in which individuals’ ideals, aspirations, and personae become attached to specific objects, colors, textures, symbols and ideologies. His work probes the influence of popular culture on the formation of self-image, and the relationship between man and monument as they coexist and embody one another. Adams is also deeply immersed in questions of how African American experiences intersect with art history, American iconography and consumerism. Most notably in his Floater series, he portrays Black Americans at leisure, positing that respite itself is a political act when embraced by black communities. The radicality of this position has materialized in Adams’ work across his Deconstruction Worker, Figure in the Urban Landscape and Beauty World series.
In formal terms, Adams’ practice is rooted in Deconstructivist philosophies related to the fragmentation and manipulation of structure and surface, and the marriage of complex and improbable forms. His tendency to layer, hybridize, and collage not only images and materials, but also different types of sensory experiences, link the artist to an estimable lineage of pioneers ranging from Hannah Höch and Henri Matisse, to William H. Johnson and Romare Bearden. In Adams’ art, the process can also be understood as an analog: “Everything that we are is based on a specific construction,” he once remarked.
Adams received his MFA from Columbia University and BFA from Pratt Institute. He is an alumnus of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation’s Studio Program. Visit derrickadams.com for more information about the artist.
About the Curator
An award-winning public arts curator and producer, Debra Simon has more than 30 years of experience in visual and performing arts programming for civic organizations, the real estate industry, and other companies. While working at the Downtown Alliance, she created the Music at Castle Clinton concert series, Dine Around Downtown, and co-founded the River-to-River Festival in 2002. As the Director of Times Square Arts, Simon oversaw Midnight Moment, the world’s largest digital art exhibition on electronic billboards, and the annual Valentine Heart design competition, among other projects for the over 300,000 daily visitors to Times Square. As Artistic Director at Brookfield Properties, she led a national arts program that planned and executed multi-disciplinary programming, presenting over 500 free events annually in New York, Denver, Los Angeles, and Houston. Collaborations with artists, architects, landscape designers, local arts organizations, and presenting partners have contributed to her expertise in creating and reimagining public spaces. Current clients include Amtrak, Taconic Partners, Hudson Yard Hell’s Kitchen Alliance, Fifth Avenue Association, and Third Street Music School Settlement. For more information, visit Debra Simon Art Consulting. Simon is collaborating with producer Common Ground Arts to realize Art at Amtrak. Visit dsimonartconsulting.com for more information.
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