More Than 30 Artists and Designers Are Creating Billboards for Times Square and Beyond to Honor Essential Workers Across the US

The project is now in its second iteration.

Carrie Mae Weems's work for
Carrie Mae Weems's work for "Messages for the City." Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Jenny Holzer, Carrie Mae Weems, and Duke Riley are among the 35 artists and designers making works in support of essential workers that will appear on digital screens across New York, Boston, and Chicago.

The project, titled “Messages for the City,” is now in its second phase, and has already included contributions from designers including Milton Glaser and Maira Kalman.

A collaboration between Times Square Arts, the Poster House museum, Print magazine, and the For Freedoms collective, the project was first launched on digital screens throughout the five boroughs of New York on April 17.

For the next iteration, Weems will create a work that speaks to the disproportionate impact the coronavirus has had on black communities, while Riley’s work will pay homage to nurses. (The artist himself recently recovered from COVID-19.)

Nekisha Durrett for "Messages for the City." Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Nekisha Durrett for “Messages for the City.” Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

“These PSAs are making clear that the distance between the frontlines and the rest of us is narrow,” said Times Square Arts director Jean Cooney.

Among the designers contributing image are Mirko Ilić and John Kudos.

“Designers have historically been the bridge between message and audience, communicating clearly and memorably often complex ideas to huge numbers of people,” Poster House director Julia Knight told Artnet News in an email.

“Their work has inspired us to come together to confront massive challenges in the past, from wars to public health crises like the AIDS epidemic, and it was immediately clear that this would be another such monumental time.”

The artworks not only serve as an acknowledgment of the important contributions of essential workers; they are also appearing in once-bustling parts of cities that are now mostly frequented by transportation employees, sanitation workers, delivery people, and grocery store clerks, many of whom are migrants.

Christine Sun Kim for “Messages for the City.” Photo by Maria Baranova courtesy Times Square Arts.

A number of companies have donated ad space on their digital billboards in Times Square for the project. The artworks will also appear on screens at senior centers, health clinics, and food pantries thanks to nonprofit advertising organization F.Y.eye.

The easiest way to encounter the work will probably be on the city’s 1,774 LinkNYC kiosks, which offer free Wi-Fi and phone-charging stations.

Beyond New York, the artworks will be on view in Boston and Chicago courtesy of JCDecaux screens.

In addition to the public art, the campaign includes a limited-edition benefit print by Pedro Reyes. The net proceeds will benefit the New York Immigration Coalition.

See more images from the project below.

Duke Riley for "Messages for the City." Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Duke Riley for “Messages for the City.” Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Paula Crown for "Messages for the City." Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Paula Crown for “Messages for the City.” Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Pedro Reyes for "Messages for the City." Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Pedro Reyes for “Messages for the City.” Photo courtesy of Times Square Arts.

Maira Kalman for "Messages for the City." Photo by Ian Douglas courtesy Times Square Arts

Maira Kalman for “Messages for the City.” Photo by Ian Douglas courtesy of Times Square Arts.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.

Share

Article topics