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Queens of the Night

1 Av (L)

Queens of the Night

Katherine Bradford
Artwork in mosaic by Katherine Bradford showing people in abstract forms.
"Queens of the Night" (2021) by Katherine Bradford at 1 Av. Photo: Jason Mandella

About the project

Katherine Bradford’s artwork reflects on the community of people who use the 1 Av station. Fabricated in glass mosaic by Mayer of Munich, vibrant compositions totaling about 400 square feet of mosaic are located in the 1st Avenue north and south mezzanines, and in three of the newly opened staircases at the Avenue A end of the station.  

In the 1st Avenue north mezzanine, figures in lime green, aquamarine blue, and rosy pinks gather in a group (as riders do on subway platforms) and are depicted under the glow of a massive moon. Two characters from this assembly are also seen in the Avenue A northeast staircase. Caped heroes, a recurrent image in Bradford’s body of work, guide riders in and out of the northwest and southeast stairs at Avenue A. In the 1st Avenue South Mezzanine, riders are greeted by a dusky blue individual donning a gown in a field of flowers.  

The figures seen in the mosaic panels represent the riders of the L train, which transports creative folk pursuing their dreams and the real-life heroes who provide essential services. In New York, these riders are dressed most often in black, which the artist believes is "merely a cloak over an inner life that is wildly colorful and unconventional."  

The New York-based artist states, “I want to give back to these subway travelers their own sense of whimsy. I want to give them the possibility of stories that evoke enchantment over reality and a kind of technicolor backdrop to their subway experience.”  

The beings that populate the scenes are ethereal and intriguing, inspiring the viewer to reconsider the outward expression of one’s own interior vivacity. These mystical figures express the energy of camaraderie when people are gathered, and the power of collective experience.

About the Artist

Katherine Bradford lives and works in New York and Maine. Her works have been exhibited at The Modern Art Museum Fort Worth, Texas; MoMA PS 1, New York; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; the Addison Gallery of American Art, Massachusetts; the Weatherspoon Gallery, North Carolina; and the University of the Arts, Philadelphia. She has been honored with an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work is in the permanent collections of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the New York Public Library; the Wooster Art Museum, Ohio; the Portland Museum of Art, Maine; the Portland Museum of Art, Oregon; Farnsworth Museum, Maine; Smith College Museum, Massachusetts; Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; and the University of Delaware.