Art on Track: Seeing MARTA Through a Different Lens
By Lyle Harris, Chief Spokesperson, MARTA
While a picture is worth a thousand words, the stirring photographic exhibit recently staged aboard a MARTA train left some customers speechless.
The October 18 exhibit entitled “Art on Track,” transformed a pair of workaday railcars into kinetic photo galleries that surprised and delighted unsuspecting riders. It also offered another real-life example of MARTA’s vision to nurture successful relationships with metro Atlanta’s burgeoning “creative class,” to help reflect the rich culture, poignant history and soulful humanity of the community we serve.
The exhibit was sponsored by Atlanta Celebrates Photography(ACP), a non-profit arts organization dedicated to the cultivation of the photographic arts and the enrichment of the Atlanta art community. Led by executive directorAmy Miller, ACP has the distinction of producing the nation’s largest annual, community-oriented photo festival that engages and educates diverse audiences through lens-based media.
ACP’s fall festival this year focused on two public art projects. In addition to Art on Track, the organization collaborated with the Atlanta BeltLine for the second year in a row on another transportation-oriented exhibit called“The Fence.” Running through Oct. 31, the project showcased 50 photographers whose work appeared on a continuous background attached to the chain link fence along the Eastside Side Trail. The project also appeared simultaneously in prominent public spaces in Houston, New York and Boston.
In its maiden voyage on MARTA, Art on Track featured original images by Atlanta-based photographers Kelly Kristin Jones and Laura Noel and was conceived and curated by Jennifer Schwartz, the Creator and Executive Director of Crusade for Art. Jones, Noel and Schwartz worked for months with MARTA staff from numerous departments to temporarily remove the advertising panels on a Red Line train and turn the rail vehicles into what ACP described as a unique, sensory art experience for riders… that will take them to new cultural horizons.”
And so it did.
Jones’ work, titled “No Vacancy” was a visual and text-driven exploration of our man-made and natural environments. She employed the shapes of vacant lots located in the neighborhoods the MARTA line runs through to represent the way Atlanta continues to refill and reinvent herself. The floor of the railcar was paved with a photo-realistic image of verdant grass and the advertising panels were replaced with shots of cloud-filled skies and intriguing quotes such as, “The Grass Ain’t Always Greener” and “ATL Is What You Make It.”
On the floor and walls of the adjoining rail car, Noel’s psychedelic work, aptly titled, “Kaleidoscope,” included digitally transformed photographs of Atlanta landmarks and signature events which she rendered in mesmerizing patterns. As customers boarded the train, Noel handed them a small, plastic kaleidoscope through which they were able to view the hidden world she had created with her camera to add an unexpected, unforgettable dimension to their journeys.
Mounting such exhibits isn’t easy, and this experience has been instructive for MARTA as it works to revive its once-vibrant arts program for transit customers. We hope to partner with ACP again and appreciate their patience, diligence and guidance to make Art on Track a reality.
Most recently, MARTA has been working with the arts advocacy group WonderRoot, the Transportation Alliance and internationally known visual artist Fahamu Pecou on a mural project at four rail stations. Last month, theDecatur Arts Alliance and the City of Decatur worked with MARTA to install “Ver Sacrum” a gleaming, gold sculpture at the Church Street entrance to the Decatur Station. Funded by a separate grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission, Decatur is also planning a mural on a MARTA overpass in the city limits.
Over the next several months, MARTA plans to announce exciting new, multi-faceted projects in conjunction with individual artists and arts organizations who share our commitment to enhance the public transit experience through the profound power of public art.
To see images of Art on Track, please visit this Dropbox.