I became aware of the artist Nancy Spero first through her subway art. Most of my New York residences have been somewhere on the #1 subway line, so I’m always passing through the Lincoln Center station.
The MTA website says the mosaics at 66th street were installed in 2001, but I remember them appearing gradually over a period of many years, finishing only a few years ago. At any rate, I saw them magically emerging and I wanted to know about the artist.
Nancy Spero. Never heard of her.
Since that time, I’ve looked at a lot of her art, in books and online, and I also got to see a show a few years ago in Chelsea. As is usually the case, the actual work is a revelation after seeing only reproductions. Scale! Hard to imagine from a small photo.
But the subway mosaics have always been live for me. They still never fail to delight. A few weeks ago, I decided to photograph them all.
In the 1970’s, Spero, who had always explored the role of women in her art, decided to make them her focus. Using a group of stock characters from history, art, myth, and the news, she celebrated the power of feminine creativity in the dance of life.
These mosaics reflect that focus, but also rejoice in the performances that take place every day in Lincoln Center.