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Hempstead Plain, Morning & Evening

Hicksville

Hempstead Plain, Morning & Evening

Roy Nicholson
Photograph of laminated glass artwork in the LIRR Hicksville station waiting room. The artwork’s bold colors of purples and pinks line the upper part of the waiting room walls, and a sign above the door read Oak from the reverse. The benches in the waiting area are empty.
"Hempstead Plain, Morning & Evening" (2018/2002) by Roy Nicholson at Hicksville. Photo: Patrick Cashin

About the Project

Roy Nicholson created glass mosaic artwork for the Hicksville station in 2002, and when the station underwent a major platform rehabilitation in 2018, he was invited to expand the project to the new waiting rooms on the rebuilt platform above.  

In the "Morning Transit, Hempstead Plain" and "Evening Transit, Hempstead Plain" mosaic murals, Nicholson takes viewers back in time. The area around Hicksville was once a notable rarity, an example of an original prairie landscape most often associated with the Midwest. Nicholson recaptures that setting, in look and spirit, as if seen from a speeding train. The colors vary according to the time of day depicted — soft green and blue hues for sunrise in "Morning Transit," and red and blue hues for sunset in "Evening Transit."

"Each commuter imagines his or her own personal scenery," says Nicholson. "One can look at it over and over again and discover new images." The artist creates a contemplative meditation on landscape and rewards the viewer with an affectionate look back at Long Island before the post-war housing boom forever altered the landscape.  

In the newer installation, "Hempstead Plain, Morning & Evening," Nicholson's 72 laminated glass panels bathe four platform waiting rooms with vibrant light and color. Additional glass panels frame two stair enclosures, and two mosaics above the stairs at the platform's west end continue the motif, making Hicksville station an engaging and lively environment.

Expanding on the artist's earlier vibrant mosaic landscapes in the station building, these sprawling transparent vistas are inspired by the historic writings of naturalist Henry Hicks, whose grandfather, Isaac Hicks, developed the first plant nursery in the area. 

Nicholson's painted glass panels, fabricated by Glasmalerei Peters Studios, capture the feeling and excitement of a train swiftly rushing through the open Hempstead Plain. The palette evokes the different times of day a commuter would pass through, with the soft blues and greens of the morning and the glowing yellows and oranges of the evening. As a longtime Long Island resident, the artist chose to name each of the 50-foot waiting rooms after a tree representative of early 20th century writings on the bucolic area: oak, sumac, cedar, and maple are the name signs framed by smaller paintings that represent these species. "I wanted to connect today's commuters with the landscape they are passing through and to echo the historic prairie with its indigenous plants, sweeping vistas and colorful morning and evening light," he says. 

About the artist

Roy Nicholson was born in Cambridge, England. He graduated from Hornsey College of Art in London in 1965, and received an MFA from Vermont College of Norwich University 1994. He has had 23 one-person exhibitions, and is included in numerous public and private collections. His work has been included in numerous group exhibitions, and he has an extensive bibliography. In recent years, Nicholson has exhibited extensively on the East End of Long Island. He is currently represented in Manhattan by Suzanne Randolph Fine Art and by Alpan Gallery in Huntington, New York. Nicholson is Professor Emeritus, Long Island University, where he has taught full-time since 1986. He received the Trustee’s Award for Scholarly Achievement in 2000.