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Press Releases

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
No. 83


Stanford Kay’s “Life Signs” on View September 8 to November 15, 2003

The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation is pleased to announce Life Signs, a public art installation by Stanford Kay on view in Union Square Park this fall. The project is funded by grants from the Gunk Foundation and the Puffin Foundation. Installation courtesy of Certified of New York Construction Corporation.

The ten signs that make up Stanford Kay’s Life Signs project resemble road-side warning signs. A closer look, however, reveals that the signs are of a completely different nature. Intended to subvert the authoritative messages delivered by traditional signage, Kay’s Life Signs avoid the “look out!” tone of warning signs and invite the viewer to contemplate scenes of casual social intimacy. The images, consisting of black silhouetted figures against a light green background, depict scenes ranging from the touching to the mundane—a mother kneels to zip a child’s jacket, backpack laden students stop for a chat, a couple exchanges a kiss. The artist hopes the signs will spur passersby to be more aware of the small moments of tenderness that play out all around us, yet are easily overlooked in the rush and stress of city life.

“I first became aware of the possibilities of public signage while driving along the California coast one summer,” says the artist about his observation of a motorist warning sign depicting a family running across the highway. “I thought the signs were riveting in their depiction of high drama, and I thought I could put this medium to other uses.”

Life Signs is Kay’s first endeavor in public art. A painter with a professional background in information graphics, Kay sees this new public work as an opportunity to use art as a tool for direct communication with viewers. Following the events of September 11, 2001, Kay felt compelled to expand his artistic practice beyond his painting and to engage broader social issues.

Kay is a Fellow of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program and a New York Foundation for the Arts grant recipient. A graduate of The Pratt Institute, Kay was born in Brooklyn and now lives in upstate New York. Kay’s paintings have been exhibited in New York and Germany, and will be featured in a solo exhibit at the Fishtank Gallery in Brooklyn next year.

Parks & Recreation’s temporary public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in City parks. Committed to the exhibition of art by emerging and established artists, Parks & Recreation has supported projects ranging from international exhibitions in flagship parks to local, community works in neighborhood parks, playgrounds, and traffic islands.

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