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Yifan Jiang


50 artists’ reflections on the pandemic at 500+ locations citywide.

Art on the Grid responds to this historic moment. Our lives have been completely transformed by the devastation of a global pandemic and the rise of one of the largest social justice movements in modern history. This spring, Public Art Fund invited 50 emerging New York-based artists to reflect on the current situation as a way to help our communities process the challenges we face together. In different ways, COVID-19 and the renewed urgency over systemic racism that led to protests in our streets and a movement for change have reshaped our day-to-day lives including the ways we interact and experience our city. The exhibition gives a highly visible public platform to artists whose regular creative outlets have been stifled, commissioning them to make new, responsive works of art. Art on the Grid enables the people of New York to reflect, to engage with the city in new ways, and to begin conversations with neighbors, friends, and strangers alike.

The exhibition roster features 50 artists from 18 countries. The artists were prompted to respond to the broad themes of reconnection and renewal, interpreted through their different perspectives and personal narratives. The resulting works draw on their experiences of New York City, its people, and places. They include reflections on moments of spontaneity, intimacy, isolation, loss, healing, and rebuilding, as well as aspirations to create a more just, inclusive, and equitable future. Now more than ever, public art–open, free, and accessible to all–has the ability to serve as a vital tool in the creative and spiritual recovery of our city.

The 50 artworks in Art on the Grid form a decentralized group exhibition on the city’s public transportation and communication infrastructure. Launched in two phases—on June 29 and July 27—the works are housed on 500 bus shelters’ advertising panels and on more than 1,700 wifi kiosks’ digital screens located across the five boroughs. Clusters of works by multiple artists along a bus route are intended to create new art viewing itineraries or simply to enliven the days of those who encounter them fortuitously. The captivating works conceived by these artists re-envision the city itself as an outdoor gallery, reminding us that even in times of adversity, artistic expression is indispensable to the creation of a culture that truly reflects and responds to our contemporary world.

Art on the Grid is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Curator Daniel S. Palmer, and Public Art Fund Assistant Curator Katerina Stathopoulou.

Yifan Jiang (b. 1994, Tianjin, China; lives and works in Manhattan, New York)
Trampoline, 2020
Oil on canvas
Courtesy the artist

The day was ending when I walked upon two kids jumping on the trampoline. They would climb into mid-air, hang there for a second, and fall back down. Repeated tirelessly, the scene solidified into an unlikely blend of cheer and serenity. During a time of turbulence, I hope this small moment can help one find gratitude in the simplicity of being in the world.