An experience riding on BART, the Bay Area's subway and rail system, ranges from mundane to uneventful. People stare down at their phones and ignore each other's humanity at all costs possible. BART is known for being slow, dirty, and overcrowded. But what if this perceived reality was just that, perceived? What if a commute on the train could be fun? What if people were invited to connect with the beautiful stories hiding inside those strangers all around them? I decided to find out.
On August 23, 2016 I named myself Artist-In-Residence for BART with the hashtag #noBARTwithoutART. I officially announced it on social media, as making it seem sanctioned by BART was integral to the project. I didn't need, or want, to wait for permission to insert joy into the BART system. I just wanted to do it, and make it seem entirely legitimate. If others thought BART was backing it then maybe they too would begin to reimagine what was possible within the confines of large bureaucratic agencies such as BART.
I threw on a yellow construction vest to look more official and carried out a week of unsanctioned creative interventions to insert joy, spontaneity, and connection into the drab world of the BART system. My hope is that maybe BART will consider what it might look like to actually have a residency program where artists think about BART in new and fun ways. We certainly need more love and joy in our everyday lives.
Here's a recap of what happened during my residency:
// Subway Swing
Swings are childhood, freedom, air, fun. So there can't be any better place for a swing than a subway train where hordes of adults commute to and from work stuck in a small screeching steel box. I made a simple swing with some rope, a drill, and wood and hung it on the BART train. People were thrilled and the number of smiles on the train increased 100%. One rider remarked that BART should turn all the seats into swings. Special thanks to Regina Felice Garcia, who filmed this video.
// Missed Connection
Craigslist, the popular online classified website, has a section called "Missed Connections" where people can leave notes for those they saw somewhere but weren't able to connect with or exchange info. Often, these notes focus on potential love connections with strangers. Missed Connections are acts in pursuit of connection, of magic, of love. For this work, I sourced a Missed Connection and elevated it to a 60 inch by 46 inch visual in an empty space usually reserved for ads.
// Adult Hopscotch
I installed this hopscotch leading up to where riders can add money to their transit pass to remind them that even though they have carry out mundane adult acts they can still find their inner child in the process.
// Every Breath Is A Blessing
In the constant rush of transit, a simple reminder installed behind an open case at a BART station.