As people trickle through Times Square, many of them essential workers, they will see messages of hope. Interspersed with gigantic ads and darkened storefronts, large digital posters pump out images of solidarity, gratitude and health reminders.
The posters — some cheeky, others stark — are part of a citywide public art project put on in collaboration with the nonprofit Times Square Alliance, Print Magazine, For Freedoms and the Poster House Museum. Digitally stretched across approximately 1,800 locations in New York City, the effort draws together a cohort of artists to create works in a show of artistic support for essential workers.
Maira Kalman, Pablo Declan, Paul Sahre and Ola Baldych are among the over 20 designers represented in the initial series, which will evolve over time to pull in more artists.
“As it has so often in the past during moments of crisis or celebration,” Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins said, “Times Square will channel the spirit of the city to the country and to the world.”
The designs, developed by the artists in approximately three-weeks time, will be on display in Times Square at the quarter-minute marks each day (i.e. at 15, 30 and 45 minutes after the hour) and will rotate through the various commissions. Enveloping the city, the images will transmit via nearly 1,900 Link NYC kiosks and the digital billboards hovering above Lincoln Tunnel.
A cautionary yellow poster designed by Matt Dorfman spells out “6 feet is 6 feet is 6 feet is 6 feet.” Another, created by Emily Oberman and Lorenzo Fanton, reads “Work For Home,” with a tiny blue marble rendition of Earth centered in the “o” of “for.” Kalman’s take is characteristically charming, featuring two line-drawn faces separated by a pink virus with the text “Love in the time of corona” floating above and below the glob.
“Posters are designed first and foremost to convey messages. To catch viewers’ eyes, to draw those eyes into information and often demand action,” Steven Heller, co-editorial director at Print Magazine, said. “These particular public service announcements serve another goal. They are celebrations of the first responders and myriad essential workers who courageously enable the city function.”
The posters currently in rotation represent the first phase of the project, with the second being launched with the artist-led group For Freedoms (in collaboration with Times Square Alliance). The works from the graphic artists currently on view were commissioned by Print Magazine and Poster House, with designers donating their time.
“With people all over New York banding together to combat this disease and support those on the front lines,” Poster House Director Julia Knight said, “it was only natural for New York organizations to partner in that same spirit, bringing together the power of mass communication and public art, then magnifying it with our gratitude.”
While prints of the original posters have no plans to be on sale, Times Square Arts states on their website that it is using the campaign to highlight to funds established for essential workers in New York City: The #NYUnitedFund — launched by the New York Immigration Colation — and the NYC COVID-19 Response & Impact Fund, led by the New York Community Trust.
Find more posters from the project below.
Top Image: Poster designed by Zipeng Shu.