Nick Cave’s vibrant ‘Soundsuits’ subway station mosaics capture the energy of Times Square

May 17, 2022

All photos courtesy of MTA/Trent Reeves, unless otherwise noted

Two new mosaics by the artist Nick Cave were unveiled in Times Square on Monday, completing a permanent artwork and marking the largest mosaic project in New York City’s subway system. Commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s public art program, the artwork, titled “Each One, Every One, Equal All,” features Cave’s wearable sculpture works “Soundsuits” translated into 4,600 square feet of colorful mosaic. The new artwork is part of a larger revamp of the 42nd Street station, including a new entrance and upgraded mezzanine level.

Cave’s Soundsuits are wearable sculptures made of different materials, from twigs and fur to sequins and feathers, that are inspired by African traditions. As 6sqft previously reported, Cave created his first Soundsuit in 1992 in direct response to the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.

As part of the permanent artwork in the 42nd Street subway station, the Soundsuits have been translated into an expansive mosaic. The first part of the series, “Every One,” opened in September 2021 in the passageway that connects the B, D, F, and M trains to the 42nd Street shuttle.

“Each One” measures over 14 feet tall and features Soundsuits in “various states of vertical movement and suspension, accentuated by stripes that run floor to ceiling,” as the MTA described. The agency says the movement of the art is a reference to the famed New Year’s Eve ball drop.

“Equal All” showcases 12 life-sized Soundsuits, displaying some of Cave’s most well-known sculptures made over the last two decades and surrounded by radiating rings.  The most recent on display as part of “Equal All” is “Soundsuit 9:29,” which Cave made in 2021 in response to George Floyd’s murder.

The artwork, which was fabricated by German mosaic fabricator Mayer of Munich, is also Cave’s largest permanent public piece to date.

“Nick Cave’s new mosaics complete the trilogy that is ‘Each One, Every One, Equal All,’” Sandra Bloodworth, MTA Arts & Design Director, said in a statement. “Each piece connects riders with the energy of Times Square, while honoring the incredible diversity found throughout New York City, particularly at this location. The work carries a powerful message of equality and representation. Its name makes clear that the artwork, and the celebration, is meant for each and every one of us.”

Photo by Marc A. Hermann / MTA on Flickr

The MTA on Monday opened a new entrance at the 42nd Street-Times Square station that allows riders to directly enter and exit Broadway Plaza. The entrance includes a new accessible elevator, upgrades to lighting, new information signs, and new security cameras.

There is also a new staircase that is 15 feet wide with a new canopy made of over 230 triangular glass frames. All said and done, the new staircase and mezzanine upgrades, which took three years to complete, cost a whopping $30 million, as the New York Post reported. Real estate developer Jamestown, which is redeveloping One Times Square above the station, contributed $10 million for the elevator.

“The unveiling of this new subway entrance couldn’t come at a better time for subway riders,” Jamie Torres-Springer, president of MTA Construction & Development, said. “From the new ADA accessibility elevator to the ongoing rebuilding and expansion of the Times Square station, the new subway entrance signifies MTA Construction & Development’s successful approach to delivering capital projects through innovative public-private partnerships.”


All photos courtesy of MTA/Trent Reeves, unless otherwise noted

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