What The New Second Avenue Subway Station Murals Say About Diversity

“This installation in my city is telling me ‘You and your family. You are here, you have been here, you are going to be here. You are cemented into the infrastructure of this city,” says Sumana Harihareswara in an interview with the New York Times.

The surprise she felt upon opening up to the Second Avenue subway extension at the 72nd street station was shared by many.

Harihareswara, an Indian-American, stands in front of a mosaic portrait of a South Asian woman in a traditional sari holding her cell phone.

A casual passerby on the subway, Harihareswara did not predict to see such an impactful installation.

Featured in Vik Muniz’s display, “Perfect Strangers” among many “normal people you see on the subway that you remember distinctly, but regard as a stranger” is a gay couple holding hands. Governor Cuomo states ,

“This couple is said to be the first permanent LGBT public art in all of New York.”

Muniz’s work is colorful and intricate.

The mosaic installations are made with glossy broken tiles with a color range that displays detailed facial features in a photo realistic manner.

Each work is life-sized and Muniz accounts for details as small as bangles, facial hair, and zippers. All of the mosaics are representations of photos Muniz took that aim to capture people that do not surprise the viewer.

They are not meant to be shocking, but instead they speak to the moments in a busy city where one might be captivated by an average stranger.

That indescribable moment when one find familiarity in random passersby.

The gay couple, Thor Stockman and Patrick Kellog, seemed to be a crowd favorite. It’s a work that speaks to progressing mindsets and the normalization of LGBT couples publicly exercising their rights.

They are displayed in conjunction with construction workers, police officers, a businessman chasing after his air tossed papers, and tourists. All culminating into an exhibit that amplifies a call of equality and the expansive diversity of New York City.

“They are just people you would expect to see,” Muniz told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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Darian Rodriguez

Music keeps me sane and fashion keeps me fly. I sometimes wonder if I should move into a bigger apartment just for the closet space. Juggling school, work, and everything else in between means that I am one teenager who strives to be set apart.