Messages for the City: Jenny Holzer & more artists honor NYC's real superheroes against COVID-19
Against COVID-19 and for the people “Messages for the City” is an ongoing project launched by Times Square Arts, Poster House, Print Magazine, and For Freedoms on April 17.
Now in its second phase, the citywide public art campaign that features artist-designed PSAs and “messages of love, gratitude, and solidarity with New York City’s health care and essential workers” is welcoming Jenny Holzer, Carrie Mae Weems, Duke Riley and more artists and designers whose work will appear on digital screens across New York, Boston, and Chicago in support of the real fighters of the pandemic.
Milton Glaser, Mirko Ilić, Paula Scher, Pablo Delcan, Debbie Millman, Emily Oberman & Lorenzo Fanton are some of the many graphic designers and artists whose work spread the message for solidarity on public display for all to see.
We can always count on Paula Scher to create an eye-catching design, and the poster she made for our PSA collaboration with @print_mag is no exception! Subtly moving against a stark white background, little organisms representing all of us keep their distance, reminding us how to stop the spread of this horrible disease.
“Posters have always been an important means of mass communication, especially in times of crisis” notes Poster House of the PSA campaign which can be found throughout New York City on nearly 1,800 digital screens and billboards thanks to partnerships with LinkNYC, JCDecaux, Silvercast, Pearl Media, and Times Square Arts.
When Poster House closed its doors to the public on March 10, the museum searched for options to continue its mission to educate and serve the public. Inspired by Steven Heller’s article in PRINT Magazine about posters commissioned during the polio epidemic, more than 20 designers contributed their own poster art pieces that addressed “clear public safety advice, support for our community in New York City, and profound thanks to everyone—doctors, MTA workers, grocery store workers, shippers, food banks, and more—who continue to make the city run through the shutdown.”
“We learned that Times Square Arts was putting together a similar effort, asking artists to contribute PSAs and messages to display on a series of digital billboards in the iconic media center of Manhattan on several gigantic and dynamic screens. Times Square is currently devoid of tourists, but necessary workers still travel through the area. In addition, the media uses Times Square as the world’s window onto New York, and featuring the PSAs in the press functions as another method of distribution. As the project grows to include more designers and venues, we are thrilled to be a part of this effort to give something to New York through the power of posters” adds Poster House.
Just like the posters that confronted wars and health crisis in the past, from World War through the AIDS battlefront of the 80s, the works are “radiating out from the screens of Times Square to the digital billboards above Lincoln Tunnel and nearly 1800 LinkNYC kiosks across all five boroughs” as this initiative turns New York city’s digital displays into “platforms of public service and appreciation through the lens of established and emerging graphic designers and visual artists from around the world.
The initial phase, launched on April 17, 2020, features work by over two dozen celebrated designers from around the world, all rallied by Poster House and PRINT Magazine.
Phase two, beginning May 15, 2020, highlights the work of emerging and established visual artists and is led by For Freedoms, an artist collective dedicated to creative civic engagement, discourse, and direct action.
A rotating display of designs will be on view in Times Square on an ongoing basis at the 15, 30, and 45- minute marks throughout each day.
As an extension of this campaign and in solidarity with New York’s nearly 2 million immigrant workers, Times Square Arts, For Freedoms, and Poster House launched a new limited edition benefit print by Pedro Reyes, produced by Brooklyn Editions.
Sold out already the net proceeds from the sales of Reyes’ print are donated to The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York.
In response to this crisis, NYIC has launched the #NYunitedFund to help ensure the health and safety of New York’s immigrants on the frontlines.
Explore more here.