Frank Viva’s “Rolling Gallery”

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This final poster “Rolling Gallery” by Frank Viva was posted in MTA subways in 2014. This poster has many details that work to firmly establish a sense of community amongst the riders. The rounded features of the riders represents their friendliness and gentle nature, as opposed to sharp features which could show anger or aggression. The black and white people represents the balanced equality of people on the train no matter what race or religion. There are no signs of excessive wealth on any of the riders (save for a single phone) so by keeping wealth out of the picture it highlights that people on the subway are blind of class, and everyone is on the same level.

An animated version of the poster allows for closer inspection of these elements.

It is important that the poster establishes equality among the subway riders because there are currently massive discrepancies between New York citizens of the lower and upper classes. Gentrification in lower class neighborhoods pushes the poorest families out of the area, unable to afford increasing rent prices, and forces them to either move away or fall into debt. On the subway, all riders are treated equally as members of the same community, making the MTA not just a company providing a product, but a company that provides a haven for people of different backgrounds to co-exist. Such communities do not necessarily solve any aspect of class disparities, but it is beneficial to have a level where all people are equal to remind us that we are all human.

Drawing reference to the Operation Track Sweep initiative, this co-existence on the subway strengthens the sense of community riders feel in the riders “you” community, and solidifies the riders’ place in the MTA and riders “us” community.

MTA_Crop1_1200px.jpgThe background of the piece shows different aspects of New York City; there are no specific landmarks seen through the windows, but the scenes show very different settings of life throughout New York. Viva describes his inspiration for the piece: “In my mind, the changing views that are framed by the windows, transform the city’s trains into a kind of moving art gallery” (Viva & Co., 2016). Viva sees the subway’s windows as a frame for a piece of art — the outside world — that everyone on the train car sees.

Perceiving the outside world as art connects the riders to the MTA’s interest of making riders aware of their positive ecological impact and reduced carbon footprint by using mass transit. As the majority of subway riders are commuters on a schedule, they see the same scenery through the same windows at the same time every day, which establishes a sense of repetition and familiarity with the scenery. This repetition makes riders consciously aware of their environment, and by association makes them aware of the environmental and ecological benefits of mass transit. This repetition also solidifies a sense of belonging amongst riders in the riders “you” community and in the MTA and riders “us” community.

This repetition works to solidify an extreme sense of belonging amongst the riders in the “us” MTA and rider community, and, like the other posters examined, establish the importance of each rider’s environmental impact to promote positive ecological behavior.

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