After six months of renovations and repairs, the 72nd Street B/C Subway station that sits under the famed Dakota building opened with a new series of murals designed by Yoko Ono.
These six new ceramic mosaics, cumulatively labeled “SKY” by the artist, comprise 973 square feet altogether with visions of a blue, cloud-filled sky embedded with written messages of hope. For the project, Ono transformed photographs of the sky into these intricate tile works that could display subtle gradations in color and tone.
Additionally, the Fluxus artist designed her murals to subtly shift in perspective; this allows transit users to see the clouds from slightly different angles as they walk through the station. Two mosaics are above the mezzanine stairs leading to the southbound platform where two more pieces are featured. One mosaic is installed on the northbound platform and another in the main turnstile area.
“I’m thrilled that my new work, ‘SKY,’ will be opening at the 72 St subway station just steps from my home and Strawberry Fields, which I created in memory of my late husband,” said Yoko Ono in a statement. “It will bring the sky underground, so it’s always with us. I hope this will bring peace and joy to my fellow New Yorkers for many years to come.”
“SKY” is not the artist’s first work to address the troposphere. Who can forget the spiral stairway of “To See the Sky” included in her 2015 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, called Yoko Ono: One Woman Show 1960–1971? The artist’s book, Grapefruit (1964) also contained a variety of meditations on the sky and clouds.
Alongside the Ono murals, the nearly 90-year-old subway station’s renovation includes digital signage for real-time service information, enhanced wayfinding and station entrances, energy-efficient lighting and updated security equipment. But likely what will capture subway riders’ attention is the artist’s “SKY.”
“Art has the ability to both elevate us and ground us, which is what Yoko Ono’s mosaics bring to this location that has meaning to many riders as well as music fans around the world,” said Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts & Design. “Her mosaics remind us that a cloudy sky may be ephemeral but there is always hope.”