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Nautical Charts

Nautical Charts

Alyson Shotz
A nautical chart design on a laminated glass window overlays the modern-day landscape visible through the glass.

At the Smith-9 Street Station, Alyson Shotz uses the local maritime history of the surrounding Gowanus and Red Hook communities to create a series of windows and large wall mosaic. Shotz has a studio near the station, in Red Hook, and has long been fascinated by the history in the area’s cobblestone streets and old factory buildings. The area’s maritime history is at a remove from the casual viewer and Shotz brings it to the forefront, first, in the station’s mezzanine level, seen by arriving travelers who make their way from the elevated platform to escalators.

There are 26 windows etched with silver reflective ink in layers of glass that create a prismatic effect as one passes them. Each features a different historic nautical map of the waters that are in the general direction the viewer is facing. The maps are from the 1700s to 1900s and show the Red Hook and Gowanus waterfront and the changes evident as time progresses. The contemporary landscape seen through the windows completes the evolution. The type of glass used makes the maps seem to fade in and out, depending on the time of day and the movement of transit riders through the space. Formerly boarded up and the station rehabilitation enabled these windows to be reopened with new frames, making the station, the highest in the NYC Transit system, a place filled with natural light.

Exhibit details

  • Title
    Nautical Charts
  • Artist Name
    Alyson Shotz
  • Program
    Permanent Art
  • Location
    Smith-9 Sts (F, G)
  • Year