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Artist Sarah Sze gives a behind-the-scenes tour of her Second Avenue Subway installation

See how Blueprint for a Landscape came to be at the 96th Street station

The artist, Sarah Sze (on the left) standing in front of her installation.
Photo stills courtesy Art21

The Second Avenue Subway finally welcomed its first passengers at the beginning of the year to much fanfare. What really seemed to grab commuters’ attention, however, were the eye-catching art found throughout all four stations along the extension. Curbed’s architecture critic, Alexandra Lange, went one step further to say, “This is not the subway as a work of art, but a subway saved from dullness by works of art.”

Now, one of the artists is giving a behind-the-scenes peek into how one of the massive works of art came to be. In a new short film by arts non-profit Art21, Sarah Sze, who was commissioned by the MTA to create the large porcelain tile installation, Blueprint for a Landscape, that now decks the walls of the 96th Street station, explains her process.

“As a place of transit, I wanted all of the different entranceways of the subway station to mirror how we move through space,” Sze says in the video. “It's this kind of speed of movement-—these transitions into different kinds of environments that we take for granted and we do repetitively.”

The installation took Sze ten years to complete, from the time that she submitted her proposal to when the artwork finally came to fruition last year. In the video, we see Sze taking us through the different entrances to the 96th Street station, and describing the inspiration behind each of the installations.

For Sze, the project also marked the fulfillment of a long-held dream. In her college application, she described wanting to decorate the subway with drawings, she says in the video, and now she’s been able to bring a version of that to life.

Art21 will officially release the film later today, but Curbed got an exclusive first look, which you can check out below.