To celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month this October, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is shining a light on its Art in Transit program, which incorporates distinctive visual and performing artworks into the Metrorail system.
This program utilizes the special advantages of a transit environment to beautify the Metrorail stations as well as promote cooperation among local jurisdictions and public-private partnerships supporting the arts.
“The purpose of the Art in Transit program is to bring public artworks and sometimes performances to Metrorail stations thereby enhancing the commuters’ experience and creating a visually appealing environment,” said Laurent Odde, Art in Transit Program Manager with WMATA.
Of the total 91 Metrorail stops, public artworks such as sculptures and glasswork are currently on display at 29 of these stations. If you’re planning a scavenger hunt, be prepared to check out the whole station or visit the WMATA website for a precise location.
Carefully designed to fit within the existing architecture of the Metrorail stations, these artworks can be found mounted to the walls, embedded in the glass panels, or set up at station entrances.
In fact, public artworks were an integral part of Phase 1 of the Silver Line, which opened to the public in July 2014. All five of the stations – McLean, Tysons, Greensboro, Spring Hill and Wiehle-Reston East – contain their own special artwork. As part of the project, WMATA’s Art in Transit program worked in collaboration with local art organizations and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) towards the selection and installation of the artworks at each of the stations.
Readers may recall one of the most notable of these artworks is the large display on the south side of the Tysons Metrorail Station over Chain Bridge Road (Route 123). WMATA commissioned artist Ray King who created Solar Sails in 2015 out of laminated glass and tension pulled steel. This dynamic artwork utilizes natural light to create colorful refractions to dazzle commuters.
At Wiehle-Reston and McLean Metrorail stations, glass panes combined art with transit at the mezzanine level, which is a level between the ground and first floor. Voyagers by artist Martin Dolin at McLean has poetry overlaying the 26 airbrushed and hand-painted glass panels, while Wiehle-Reston by artist David Wilson showcases reflective glass panels.
Both Spring Hill and Greensboro Metrorail stations have sculpted artworks posted along their entrances at the west pavilion and along Leesburg Pike (Route 7), respectively.
WMATA continues working closely with MWAA, local art organizations, and project contractors to install one public artwork at each of the six stations in Phase 2 of the Silver Line. In coordination with selected artists, installation is underway and progressing at the Dulles Airport, Herndon, Innovation Center and Loudoun Gateway stations with preparatory work still underway at the Reston Town Center and Ashburn stations.
Pictured at top left: Eccentricity by Barbara Grygutis at Spring Hill Metrorail Station is a stainless steel and concrete sculpture containing shifting moiré patterns, which is a type of large-scale interference pattern.
Pictured at top center: A total of 26 airbrushed and hand-painted glass panes with permanent ceramic enamels and an etched poetry overlay went into the creation of Voyagers by Martin Dolin at McLean Metrorail Station.
Pictured at top right: Located at Tysons Metrorail Station, Solar Sails by Ray King is a play on the natural phenomena of light using laminated glass panes and tension pulled steel to create a rainbow-like appearance.