Subway Artist Turns MTA Maps Into Works Of Art
Most subway riders probably wouldn't consider the transit system a place of beauty, but for one Manhattan artist, it has become the inspiration for his work. NY1 transit reporter Bobby Cuza filed the following story.
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For Enrico Miguel Thomas, the subway is not only the subject of his paintings, it's also his studio — and in a sense, the subway system is also his canvas. That's because Thomas makes all his drawings on official MTA system maps.
"It's basically already a drawing, so I'm imposing one drawing on top of another drawing,” says Thomas.
Thomas may be familiar to subway riders. Since graduating from the Pratt Institute two years ago, he's spent much of his time drawing underground. At first, he used traditional materials like paper or canvas, but after trying the map, hasn't gone back. He says he's made dozens of map drawings, using just Sharpies and paint pens.
While he often draws subway riders and, in some cases, the homeless, he says he's most drawn to the physical structures underground.
"It’s just an amazing feat to me of engineering, of architecture. It's just an amazing world down here, and it's just filled with beauty,” says Thomas.
Thomas also says he now spends so much time underground, he's developed a relationship with the transit workers he sees almost every day.
"There's no bathrooms down here, so they let me use their bathrooms,” says Thomas. “Sometimes they watch my stuff for me. They'll give me the subway maps. Sometimes they even buy a drawing."
"I’ve stopped on a couple of occasions to see what he's doing, and he does very good work,” says one transit rider. “It's really phenomenal."
Thomas has to be careful folding and unfolding his collected artworks. He says he keeps many in Ziplock bags. And though he often attracts the attention of passersby, and says he's sold about seven or eight of his subway map drawings, Thomas says he is looking for opportunities to exhibit his artwork aboveground.
If you want to see more of Thomas's drawings, you can find them at galleryfront.com
— Bobby Cuza