In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, New York City gained a poignant public art project: the “Subway Therapy” wall in the Union Square subway station. It all started when artist Matthew Levee Chavez invited commuters to scribble their post-election feelings on Post-Its. But in the month since the election, the project has metastasized, with thousands of sticky notes spreading throughout the halls of the subway station, offering messages of hope, anger, solidarity, and more.
Now, Chavez’s impromptu project is being recognized as an important historical artifact: Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that many of the Post-Its will be preserved with the help of the New-York Historical Society. The MTA will begin removing some of the Post-Its today, but the museum will collect and house a large chunk of those. N-YHS is also continuing the project at its Upper West Side headquarters; those who want to leave messages can do so in the museum’s entryway, beginning Tuesday and ending on Inauguration Day.
Today I am partnering with the New York Historical Society to archive the sticky notes at Union Square. The MTA has been very understanding of the need for people to express how they feel, but as we move forward we want to make sure that the voices of the people are preserved. The New York Historical Society will be providing a space for people to continue to express themselves. Check out www.subwaytherapy.com and www.nyhistory.org for more details. If you contributed to this amazing project, thank you very much for helping make this an international symbol of unity and peaceful expression. #subwaytherapy #love #newyork @nyhistory
In a statement from the Governor’s office, Chavez expressed his gratitude that the project will be saved:
“I started the project so people could have a channel to express their thoughts, feel less alone, and also become exposed to opinions different than their own. ‘Subway Therapy’ is about inclusion, stress relief and peaceful expression. I’m thrilled that we have found a way to work together to move the project and preserve it for others to experience in the future.”
And Cuomo, who left his own note on the wall last month (quoting Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty), called the work a “powerful symbol that shows how New Yorkers of all ages, races and religions came together to say we are one family, one community and we will not be torn apart.” Amen to that.
Update: Photographer Scott Lynch stopped by today to capture the dismantling of the Post-It wall; Chavez was apparently there, working with MTA employees to ensure the messages were carefully removed.
- Governor Cuomo Announces Partnership with New-York Historical Society to Preserve Post-It Notes from "Subway Therapy" Project [Official]
- New Yorkers expand ‘subway therapy’ wall beyond Union Square [Curbed]
- Governor Andrew Cuomo leaves unifying message at post-election ‘subway therapy’ wall [Curbed]