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NYC bus shelters become mini-museums as photo exhibit debuts

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100 bus shelters across the boroughs will showcase a Public Art Fund series by artist Elle Pérez

A bus shelter in the Bronx featuring an image of two hands shaking.
Elle Pérez, Flight, Two (Flight created by Jay P Fury in the Bronx, NY), 2019. Grand Concourse between E 163 St and E 164 Street, the Bronx
Image: Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York/Photo: Nicholas Knight, courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

Bus shelters across the five boroughs are about to become more than just a place to wait for a ride. The Public Art Fund, along with advertising firm JCDecaux, launched “from sun to sun,” an exhibition by photographer Elle Pérez that brings a series of images to 100 bus shelters throughout the city.

Three bikes tangled on a NYC alleyway with trash cans and cables behind them. Elle Pérez, Bikes, 2019/Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York

The 16-photograph series explores the day-to-day of New York places and communities, where Pérez grew up. The series features Pérez’s friends who are impacting their community, facets of NYC’s urban landscape, and topics of heritage and identity.

One image shows a student and a teacher in the Bronx planting evergreen shrubs and raspberries in a public school garden. Others show details of the streetscape that may go unnoticed, including entangled bikes, crevices in the pavement, and damaged subway car interiors. Another one alludes to the artist’s own heritage, with a black-and-white Puerto Rican flag, often used as a symbol of resistance both on the island and among the diaspora.

“Pérez’s new body of work creates a powerful synergy between familiarity and abstraction, achieved through photography’s precision in describing surfaces,” says Public Art Fund assistant curator Katerina Stathopoulou, who says the hope is that the photos “inspire points of connection and conversation.”

The 100 bus shelters that will house Perez’s work will be in 13 neighborhoods including Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Sunnyside, St. George, Parkchester, and East Harlem.

“from sun to sun” will be on view until November 24.

A plate of plantains, yucca, and rotisserie chicken and two people holding forks, sharing it. Elle Pérez, Arroz con pollo asado, platano maduros, y yuca, 2019/Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York
A man with a New York Yankees hat showing off a tattoo on his arm that has the Puerto Rican flag with letters on top of it that read “mi orgullo” or “my pride.” Elle Pérez, Mi Orgullo (Stephen), 2019/Courtesy of the artist and 47 Canal, New York