William Kentridge’s video animation of historical figures on view at Moynihan Train Hall

by TexasDigitalMagazine.com

Images courtesy of Amtrak

A cast of historical figures is watching travelers as they bustle through the waiting area of Moynihan Train Hall. Created by South African artist William Kentridge, “We Will Make Shoes from the Sky” is a multi-panel video animation featuring characters based on famous people from history, including several Black leaders like James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Aimé and Suzanne Césaire. The installation is currently on view on the digital screens in the main waiting area of Moynihan Train Hall.

“We Will Make Shoes from the Sky” depicts characters who are based on real figures from eras in history, including people who fled Vichy France at the end of World War II and traveled to destinations in North and South America.

Other figures were part of the Negritude movement, which was a “consciousness of pride in the cultural and physical aspects of African heritage,” according to a press release. The movement, which started in Paris, was led by the famous Martinique writer Aimé Césaire and his wife Suzanne Césaire, a teacher, scholar, anti-colonial, feminist activist, and surrealist.

The installation gives passengers traveling through the train hall a chance to stop and think about trailblazing figures who fought for freedom and individuality.

The characters featured in the animation are also the cast of “The Great Yes, The Great No,” Kentridge’s highly-anticipated theater production. Developed for the Luma Foundation, the show will debut in Arles, France in 2024 in partnership with the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence.

“We Will Make Shoes from the Sky” is part of the Art at Amtrak public art program, in its third year. Curated by Debra Simon Art Consulting, the program displays diverse art projects designed to enhance the travel experience at Amtrak stations. The program began at NYC’s Penn Station in June 2022 and expanded to Moynihan Train Hall last summer.

Art at Amtrak is currently presenting another art installation below Moynihan Train Hall in the Amtrak concourse at Penn Station. Created by NYC-based artist Rico Gatson, “Untitled (Collective Light Transfer)” covers the concourse with captivating geometric compositions that fill the otherwise bland space with a “pulsating energy.” 

The installation is on view in the upper-level rotunda between the 8th Avenue Amtrak departure concourse and the 7th Avenue NJ transit concourse through the summer.


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