See it split, see it change
A Site-Specific Installation Commissioned and Owned by Metropolitan Transportation Authority Arts for Transit
South Ferry Station, 1 line, New York City Transit

Features Undulating Wall with Signature Starn Artworks—
Silhouetted Images of Trees, and Mosaic Maps of Manhattan.
Fused Glass Panels, Mosaic Marble Work, & Stainless Steel Fence,
Spans 250 Feet up to 14 Feet Tall.



As part of the major construction of the New South Ferry Terminal, the MTA Arts for Transit Permanent Art Program announces its recent installation adding to the MTA’s public artworks throughout its transportation system. Doug and Mike Starn created See It Split, See It Change, a multi-part, site-specific installation that encompasses the entire interior of the new South Ferry Terminal concourse, a crucial transportation hub that includes the terminus of the 1 line, with new transfers to the N and W, and is situated at the entrance to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal.

As passengers enter the station through the turnstiles they are faced with an expansive view of a 20-foot wide, floor-to-ceiling map of the island of Manhattan, created by the Starns and pieced together in an intricate marble mosaic, extending down the stairs to the platform. The map’s dynamic perspective mirrors passengers’ own position, aimed uptown, into the heart of the city and was inspired by a map commissioned by the United States Census Bureau in 1886, that integrated a topographic map drawn in 1640 with a street plan from the Battery to 155th Street. The island’s original topography emerges like an apparition behind a more familiar diagram of the modern city, depicted in relief on top.

Two hundred thirty linear feet of the station’s undulating concourse is lined with intertwining branches from the Starns’ Structure of Thought series. Nine to fourteen foot high images of silhouetted trees are presented in an innovative fused-glass technique. Many of the images are based on photographs of Battery Park trees, symbolically re-rooted into the subterranean network of subway lines. Passengers will faintly observe their reflections against the blurred images of the trees. The entire installation is pieced together from 425 glass panels that measure 14” by 28” each. The tree limbs fan out from the center panels and are echoed in the artist-designed, stainless-steel fence that features a tree motif and that separates the entry from the station. The latticed effect is similar to that of a Moroccan screen and activates the space by providing shifting vistas of the tiled corridor as passengers approach.

Along and above the stairwell leading down to the platform, the trees are punctuated with the image of a single leaf. Based on the Starns’ Black Pulse Lambda series and rendered using the same fused-glass technique to reveal the delicate tracery of its veins, the leaf echoes the shape of the island.

Sandra Bloodworth, Director of MTA Arts for Transit said, “The Starns’ installation is brilliant in its simplicity and clarity as it captures the historic context of the new South Ferry Terminal. Viewed from the southern tip of the island the work compares and contrasts the veins and arteries of the natural world to the routes and lines of the transportation system, the similarities are stunning. Likewise, the flanking silhouetted trees are portrayed in fused glass that powerfully evokes the Park at the Battery - in breath-taking beauty.”

For more than two decades Doug and Mike Starn have pursued themes of impermanence and transience in their photo-based artworks; here their interests find a permanent expression. In See It Split, See It Change (2005–2008), they have conceived the subway station as a passage that can convey meaning as well as people, both in constant flux. Their ambitious installation highlights these transitions and conversions at South Ferry Terminal. Located at Battery Park, it is a historic gateway to the city: both literally and metaphorically, this is where New York City begins and began.

Depicting the subway as the city’s circulatory system, the trilogy of images—map, tree, leaf—address time, space, the natural, and the manmade. Of the South Ferry work the Starns write: “We build a dual sense of continuity and change into our work. The concept of passage and progress integrates well with the function of the subway system as a whole.”

Through the MTA Arts for Transit's Permanent Art Program, over 200 site-specific artworks have been installed at stations throughout the metropolitan area. See It Split, See It Change is the latest addition to the MTA’s Arts for Transit program, joining works by Roy Lichtenstein, Elizabeth Murray, Romare Bearden, Vito Acconci, Tom Otterness, Maya Lin, Jacob Lawrence and Robert Wilson, among others.


Cick on pictures to enlarge  

NILEport June, 2009
New York Times (virtual panorama) March 16, 2009
NY State Governor, March 16, 2009
Bloomberg, March 16, 2009

Cool Hunting, March 3, 2009

New York Magazine, February 16, 2009
Art in America February 09, 2009
The Architects Newspaper, January 21, 2009

Cool Hunting, January, 2009
METROPOLIS, January 15, 2009
ARTINFO, December 16, 2008
Downtown Express, December 19, 2008
New York Times "The Arts", December 14, 2008
New York Times "N.Y. / Region", December 11, 2008


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