East Village resident uses this NYC staple to create artwork
For years, an East Village resident has been making artwork from MetroCards over the last two decades.
It all started with anagrams. “When I got home I made a few pretend MetroCards changing the letters around. But then I got hooked on the material, how it glows, how beautiful it is,” said artist Thomas McKean from his East Village apartment.
Now, he creates everything from hanging wall pieces to miniature cityscapes, houses, and taxi sculptures using just MetroCards and glue. So, how long does each piece take? “Ages. It’s something you can't hurry up. I usually work on a few pieces at once… so it takes weeks,” explained McKean.
When it comes to his inspiration, McKean looks to the city around him. However, his hobby may be running out of resources. In November of 2022, the MTA announced that MetroCards will be phased out by 2024 and replaced by the OMNY payment system. “They haven't sent me a big box yet, I keep waiting. To be honest, I have quite a lot stashed. A lot of the regular ones and a limited amount of the special editions with the funny colors. And I figure I’ve been doing this 20-something years when the time is up the time is up. I’m ready,” said McKean.
But, for the time being, he has plenty to work with.
You can catch McKean’s “Off the Rails: MetroCard Art (and More),” at Fishs Eddy in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan.