The Root System Growing Underneath Bryant Park is Actually Art

NEW YORK—There is a mosaic tile root system growing underneath Bryant Park and the Fifth Avenue public library. When you enter the passageway between the 7 line and the B, D, F and V trains a nature-inspired installation surrounds you. The MTA Arts for Transit work by Samm Kunce references complex urban and natural systems. This year marks the 10th anniversary of its installation.

On the Arts for Transit website Kunce describes the “Under Bryant Park” thus: “People travel the subway system, water and other utility services are delivered by pipes, and plants and trees that provide grace and softness against the city’s sharper edges find their way to water and nutrients underground through a system of roots. In a similar way, literature is shared by systems of learning and lending, and many animals inhabit systems of burrows just as humans systematically divide portions of larger habitats aboveground.”

The walls feature rock outcroppings, tree roots, pipes, animal burrows, and literary quotes from the like of James Joyce and the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme. The installation, one of the largest in the subway system, offers in inspiring moment as commuters rush past.

All photos by Arts Observer

“Under Bryant Park,” 2002 (glass, stone and marble mosaic) by Samm Kunce.

The quote on the wall at the end of the passageway is from psychologist Carl Jung: “Nature must not win the game, but she cannot lose.”

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