Rico Gatson’s colorful geometric art brings sense of peace to Penn Station

January 29, 2024

Photos by David Plakke courtesy of Amtrak

Penn Station’s Amtrak concourse has been transformed with colorful geometric designs. Created by New York City-based artist Rico Gatson, the installation “Untitled (Collective Light Transfer)” covers the Amtrak concourse at New York Penn Station with captivating geometric compositions that fill the otherwise bland space with a “pulsating energy,” representing the rhythm of constant movement as travelers bustle through the station. The art installation will be on view in the upper-level rotunda between the 8th Avenue Amtrak departure concourse and the 7th Avenue NJ Transit concourse through the summer.

“Untitled (Collective Light Transfer)” features artistic influences Gatson has channeled throughout his career, including African, Native, and Indigenous colors and patterns, abstract mathematics, and the concept of illumination.

Together, Gatson’s designs in “Untitled” are meant to “uplift, reflect, and guide” riders as they travel through the rotunda, concourse, and to the train platform.

“I really wanted to kind of try to do something that didn’t so much brighten the space in the physical sense, but more so bring calmness to the space,” Gatson told Time Out New York. “It’s a real honor and privilege to be able to activate a space like this in the center of the city. I feel that as much as anything, this is about the experience of the commuters.”

The new installation kicks off the third year of Art at Amtrak, the transit company’s official public art program. Curated and produced by Debra Simon Art Consulting, the program presents diverse and memorable art projects aimed at enhancing the travel experience at Amtrak stations. The program launched at Penn Station in New York City in June 2022 and expanded to Moynihan Train Hall last summer.

“The latest Art at Amtrak showcase weaves light, color and culture together to surprise and delight customers and station visitors,” Jina Sanone, Amtrak Vice President, Northeast Corridor, said.

“As we enter the third year of the popular Art at Amtrak program, your next journey through the station will be even brighter and more inspiring thanks to the brilliant vision of local artists like Rico.”

Beacons (2018) © Rico Gaston, NYCT 167th Street Station. Commissioned by MTA Arts & Design. Audre Lorde portrait derived from a photo by Jack Mitchell

“Untitled” is not Gatson’s only artwork to be installed in a train station. In January 2019, “Beacons” was revealed at the 167th Street B and D station in the Bronx, featuring eight portraits of culturally significant figures with intricate ties to the five boroughs. Figures featured included Gil Scott-Heron, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Reggie Jackson, and Sonia Sotomayor.


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