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River Light; The Presence; The Spring; The Sound; The Water's Way

Grand Central Madison

River Light; The Presence; The Spring; The Sound; The Water's Way

Kiki Smith
Mosaic artwork along a train station corridor, the mosaic depicts light as it hits a flowing blue river.
"River Light" (2022) © Kiki Smith, LIRR Grand Central Madison Station. Photo: Richard Lee, Courtesy of Pace Gallery

About the project

Since the 1980s, Kiki Smith has been known for her multidisciplinary work that explores embodiment and the natural world. Five individual mosaics by the acclaimed artist are located across two levels of Grand Central Madison. The glass mosaics, totaling over 1,400 square feet, were fabricated by Mayer of Munich, with whom Smith has been creating works over the last 25 years. The artwork builds on the motif of the natural world that Smith has explored for decades. 

"River Light" greets riders entering the new terminal’s concourse from the historic Grand Central Terminal. The nearly 800-square-foot mosaic is inspired by the way sunlight glints on the surface of the East River, the threshold between Manhattan and Long Island. There are four mosaic murals located in arched node walls throughout the Mezzanine level: "The Water’s Way, " "The Presence," "The Spring," and "The Sound." These bring flora and fauna into the new terminal and conceptually relate with Grand Central and Long Island. Smith developed the images both visually and narratively by photographing the local landscape and animal life to portray quiet moments found in the Long Island landscape. These were then rendered in exquisite mosaic. 

About the artist

Kiki Smith, born in Nuremberg, Germany, uses a wide variety of materials to continuously expand and evolve a body of work that includes sculpture, printmaking, photography, drawing, and textiles. Smith has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, and her work has been featured at five Venice Biennales, including the 2017 edition. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2017 was awarded the title of Honorary Royal Academician by the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Previously, Smith was recognized in 2006 by Time Magazine as one of the "Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World.” Other awards include the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture in 2000; the 2009 Edward MacDowell Medal; the 2010 Nelson A. Rockefeller Award, Purchase College School of the Arts; the 2013 U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts, conferred by Hillary Clinton; and the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sculpture Center, among others. She is an adjunct professor at NYU and Columbia University.