Panel Discussion Art Tracks: On the Potentials of Railway Spaces in NYC

View from an interlocking tower at Penn Station: looking out on the tracks. © Courtesy of Natalia Irina Roman

Thu, 04/25/2024

6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Goethe-Institut New York

A panel exploring art interventions along railway tracks

All aboard as we delve into the artistic possibilities of New York City's railway system! The tradition of art in train stations runs deep in the city. This panel will focus on new formats of art in train stations and along railroad tracks and explore emerging opportunities for independent artists.

We will begin with a historical journey led by Wendy Feuer, who will provide insights into the inception of the MTA Arts program and its evolution into a cornerstone of today's cityscape. Our focus then shifts to contemporary initiatives. Kanya Rhedrick will give an overview of the current landscape of Art at Amtrak, while Curtis Springstead will lead us through the story of the disused Waldwick interlocking tower, a historic gem, poised for a transformative role as an art space for train passengers.

Building on these presentations, our collective goal is to ignite a brainstorming session aimed at fostering fresh perspectives and innovative approaches within the realm of the railway. What untapped potential lies within disused railway spaces, such as former interlocking towers? Could we envision pioneering artist residencies, forged through collaborative partnerships with railway companies? And might there be unexplored opportunities for grassroots engagement and participation through independent collaborations in this context?

This event marks the latest installment in a series of public discussions curated by Along the Lines — an independent art project initiated in Berlin by artist and curator Natalia Irina Roman. Through a collaborative effort with Deutsche Bahn, this initiative transforms disused interlocking towers into art spaces for train passengers. The conversation will be moderated by Natalia Irina Roman.

Wendy Feuer 
Wendy's 40-year career has been focused on making cities better for walking, biking, and mass transit. Starting in policy at the New York State Assembly, she moved to improving NYC's waterfronts, founded and led the MTA's Arts for Transit, winning multiple awards. As a consultant, she influenced projects at JFK Terminal 4, Hudson River Park, and for Brown University. At the NYC Department of Transportation, she was instrumental in creating the groundbreaking Street Design Manual. Wendy is a recognized expert in urban design and public art, contributing widely through writing and speaking engagements.

Kanya Rhedrick 
Kanya is the Director of Portfolio Management at Amtrak and brings her wealth of experience in project management ranging from construction, business process improvements, and most recently with art in public spaces. She has partnered with the Art at Amtrak founder Sharon Tepper to extend the visual experience throughout stations along the Northeast Corridor. After spending more than 20 years helping companies embrace unconventional projects; she is tasked with developing the financials, expansion plan, and continuance of the unique Amtrak art program. When not traveling the country for Amtrak projects, Kanya can be found enjoying the natural beauty along coastal and mountain hikes.

Curtis Springstead
Curt has dedicated 25 years to the Waldwick interlocking tower in Waldwick, NJ, blending his rich family history with a passion for preserving rail heritage. Before retiring, he amassed nearly four decades of experience as a technology consultant, serving both small and large firms. Curt's connection to the tower runs deep, tracing back to his Great-Great Grandfather, Harvey Springstead, a distinguished engineer for the Erie Railroad's NY Division and a Waldwick local. Actively involved in the tower's rehabilitation and its transformation into a museum, Curt has played a pivotal role in honoring the railroad industry and its workers.

Natalia Irina Roman
Natalia is an artist, curator, and researcher, with a background in fine arts and public policy. Her diverse portfolio spans solo and group exhibitions internationally, focusing on installation, video, photography, and participatory art. Since 2017, Natalia has initiated an art cooperation with the railway company Deutsche Bahn, transforming interlocking towers into art spaces for train passengers, funded by Berlin Capital’s Cultural Fund. Beyond exhibitions, she engages in public discussions and teaches at Bauhaus University Weimar and Berlin University of the Arts. Currently, Natalia is a visiting researcher and Fulbright Fellow in Historic Preservation at Columbia University.