A new series of public art projects in New York’s Time Square gives diverse artists and visitors alike a chance to rethink our experience of digital, urban and natural spaces.
Wander the streets of many major cities, and eventually you’ll encounter public art. Whether they’re statues of famous people, huge steel sculptures or sites for remembering loss, public art projects in urban spaces connote what’s important to a city’s culture. And many, once installed, become a permanent part of the built environment.
Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that in the heart of New York’s Times Square, a neighborhood iconic for its dynamism and cultural exchange, the Art at the Crossroads series, a project of the Times Square Alliance, offers a diverse set of artists the chance to create temporary large-scale multidisciplinary art projects almost year-round.
This year, Morgan Stanley is proud to support the series, which opens this month with a site-specific installation by Cuban-born artist Raul Cordero entiled “The Poem” and continues into the fall.
“With our headquarters at the northwest corner of Times Square, it makes perfect sense for us to support this work and the Times Square Alliance, bringing world-class, diverse artists to a community we’re deeply engaged with,” says Jessica Schnurr, Morgan Stanley’s Global Head of Brand. “More important, the works in the series also speak to our firm’s core values by leveraging the exceptional ideas of these artists, championing important nonprofit work, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion.”
For his project, Cordero, has constructed a 20-foot tower covered in a cascade of mountain laurel. Visitors can enter the quiet space and read a poem “written” in glowing black lights. The structure is designed to narrow the sensory overload of Times Square, allowing visitors a moment of reflection. Playing off the architecture and energy of Times Square, Cordero, 51, offers a respite from the attention economy in the form of poetry and nature.
“It’s difficult to create meaningful art for people in an era when their attention is scattered across so many mediums and technologies simultaneously,” says Cordero. The installation reminds us that “humans also have the capacity to invest in one thing at a time,” he adds, and even stop amid nature “and read a poem when standing in the center of Times Square.”
Over the next eight months, the Art at the Crossroads series will feature a diverse range of works by artists including Charles Gaines (in partnership with Creative Time and Governors Island), Taryn Simon (in partnership with Creative Time), and Xaviera Simmons (in partnership with the Queens Museum).