Public art campaign lights up Times Square in support of essential workers

Posted On Tue, May 19, 2020 By

Posted On Tue, May 19, 2020 By In Art, Midtown

PSA by Carrie Mae Weems; Photo by Maria Baranova

A public art campaign is lighting up Times Square in support of New York City’s healthcare and essential workers. As part of a joint effort by Times Square Arts, For Freedoms, and Poster House, “Messages for the City,” now in its second phase, features work from more than 30 artists and designers on digital public service announcements in New York, Boston, and Chicago.


PSA by Christine Sun Kim; Photo by Maria Baranova

With more than two dozen graphic designers participating, including Milton Glaser, the project first launched on April 17 with PSA’s on screens across the five boroughs, including above the Lincoln Tunnel and nearly 1,800 LinkNYC kiosks.

Phase two rolled out on billboards in Times Square on Friday with work from established and emerging visual artists, including Alixa Garcia, Carrie Mae Weems, Christine Sun Kim, Christine Wong Yap, Duke Riley, Jenny Holzer, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, G.O.N.G. with Mel Chin, Nekisha Durrett, Paula Crown, Pedro Reyes, and Xaviera Simmons.


PSA by Nekisha Durrett; Photo by Maria Baranova

The designs will be on view in Times Square as part of an ongoing rotating display at the 15, 30 and 45-minute mark each day. The advertisement space has been donated by 20 Times Square and Maefield Development, American Eagle, Branded Cities, Morgan Stanely, Sivlercast Lincoln Tunnel, and LinkNYC.

“Art asks us to pause, to take a moment to consider what is in front of us. We hope that this project will further encourage us to pause, consider and appreciate those whose jobs are essential, who return to their nightly hospital shifts or daily customer service responsibilities, to guarantee that we are taken care of through this pandemic and beyond,” For Freedoms said in a statement.


PSA by Christine Wong Yap; Photo by Maria Baranova

The campaign also looks to bring attention to New York’s nearly two million immigrant workers. A new limited edition benefit print created by Pedro Reyes is now for sale, with net proceeds donated to the New York Immigrant Coalition.

“Especially in times of uncertainty and change, artists can figuratively — and in Times Square literally — shine a light on hidden truths and celebrate those people and phenomena which are often unseen or unacknowledged,” Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said in a statement. “Our partnership with both For Freedoms and the New York Immigration Coalition speaks to that.”

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Photos by Maria Baranova

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