Over the last few weeks I have had the great fortune of working with the Purple Line Transit Partners and Maryland Transit Administration’s Art in Transit program for the Purple Line project in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland. The process brought together over 80 artists from around the world to take part in incorporating art into the Purple Line’s 21 new stations. These artists don’t typically work on canvas; they work on long-term works for the public spaces for individuals to see and interact with on a daily basis. It is more than painting a pretty picture that reminds us of the location; it is deeper, more inclusive in the architecture, it is something that has layers and can be experienced again and again over time.
It’s a daunting task that these artists commit their labor of love to on such projects. From planning for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and construction codes to predicting maintenance costs, they have a myriad of things to consider before they even get started. Yet, in spite of those challenges, they include the communities and make magic happen.
But what is “art” and why make an effort to include it in public spaces? Art can be – and is – everywhere; it is something that evokes an emotional response in another human being. Some art is more obviously meant to remind us of a specific person, such as statue or painting, while other works are more open to interpretation. In public spaces these elements add to the texture and narrative of the locations. They can humanize the space and give individuals opportunities to engage with the art. Art can also be a common ground to start dialogs that can unite people.
I believe that as humans we are all artists – that’s the way we were made. We each see the world as only we can. We interpret the scenes and sounds around us through our own senses.
I urge you to take the time to enjoy the art that is around you, stop for two seconds before you jump on the train and catch the sunray that magically appears only for a minute, or close your eyes and hear the rhythm of life around you. Remember, whether you can paint like Michelangelo or just doodle a stick figure on a napkin, your interpretation is your art.
The best part of my job as a creative director is helping clients see the art and beauty in what they do and helping them show the world the value that they bring to their clients and associates.
So, take a minute and consider the art that is all around you and make it part of your life. I guarantee you will feel enriched by the experience.
– Chris Stokes (Vice President & Creative Director)