When visiting the Museum of Transit I felt like I just stepped out of a time machine and into a 1910s New York train station. The trains had vintage ads trying to sell ladies stockings, shaving cream for war bonds, "The Folding Brownie" camera, and more.
Our tour guide, Pauline, mainly focused on the different types of trains and how the New Yorkers at the time shaped how the trains were made and how they functioned. One of the trains that she mentioned, the IRT 1917 Low Voltage Trailer, had beige woven seats, small fans on its ceiling, leather holders for passengers to balance themselves, red floors, and three doors on either side. What was fascinating about the tour was that our group got to sit down in each train as she talked. Seeing so many people sitting in these vintage trains gave me a glimpse of what it would feel like to ride these trains in the past.
I felt like I was in an art installation which transported me into a different time. Many were engaged by this tour because it connected to our daily lives and now we see trains differently. Each train and its advertisements gave me hints of what appealed to New Yorkers at the time. One advertisement focused on trying to sell Gold Dust washing powder and struck me with its negative messages. It says, “WOMEN WILL EVENTUALLY GET THE RIGHT TO VOTE--FOR GOLD DUST.” Next to this message is a complete cartoon of two dark skin toddlers in red tutus washing dishes. The simple design tells us that they were trying to make a clear statement. I found many things wrong and disrespectful about what this advertisement was communicating. Firstly, it mocked the efforts of the women rights movement to gain the right to vote during the early 1900s. It`s communicating that women should not be concerned with politics and focus on housework by “voting” for a dish washing powder instead.
The cartoon image of the toddlers washing dishes tells us that the Gold Dust company supported racism, discrimination, and slavery. These twin toddlers were the company's trademark and usually appeared in many of their print media along with the slogan “Let the twins do the work.” It's a shame how Gold Dust used these discriminatory tactics in attempt to sell their product.
Born in Ecuador but raised in NYC, Lady Pink is known as one the leading female graffiti artists and painted subway trains from 1979 to 1985. Her work, The Death of Graffiti, shows how the MTA handled their issue with graffiti--by removing it. I chose this image because I admire Lady Pink`s work. The image depicts a time in the 1980s and shows how Lady Pink emotionally felt about her art being removed from train cars.
In the painting, one train car is filled with color graffiti and even says “PINK” on it while the other is bare. The sky is dark and light pink and hovers over the city setting. The intense and deep hues gives the work a heavily emotional vibe. In front of the colorful train car is a naked women standing on top of a huge pile of spray cans. Her arm seems to be reaching towards the plain white train car. The painting may depicts how when the MTA removes Pink`s art she felt like she her stripped bare of her talent. By removing her work, the MTA is devaluing her art and skill. This was also experienced by many graffiti artists. This continuation of graffiti removal discouraged many artists of the time and that's when train graffiti began to die out.
Posted by Kiara Ventura