Apr 18, 2022
‘Hopeful’ public art comes to Brooklyn following subway attacks
Last week's subway shooting in Brooklyn rattled the nerves of commuters. Now, artist Charlie Hewitt is trying to foster hope
Last week’s horrifying subway shooting in Sunset Park has rattled the nerves of commuters all over a city already on edge after an uptick in violent crimes. Now, one artist is trying to promote hope—literally.
Artist Charlie Hewitt is bringing his optimistic art project to Sunset Park this week with two digital billboards at the 36th Street and 45th Street station entrances. The message is simple: The colorful sign, using the colors red, yellow, green, and purple, displays the word “Hopeful” and will be shown for a month.
Hewitt tells Brooklyn Magazine that he hopes that Brooklynites will feel a “sense of optimism” when they see the displays.
“I want to tribute this artwork to the wonderful and hardworking community that is Brooklyn,” he says. “During the pandemic most Brooklynites stayed and worked for the betterment of the city, they are the essence of New York City and without them the city would not be the same.”
The project, aptly called “Hopeful,” recently appeared at several subway stations in the Bronx. Hewitt installed the signs in the borough after a Bronx resident said her community could use some optimism after various violent events, according to CBS New York.
“Hopeful is not a passive work—it’s a challenge and a responsibility,” Hewitt writes on his website explaining why the word is the centerpiece of this project. “It’s a silent prayer, it’s a leap of faith you take that it’s going to be better. To be hopeful requires action, it requires commitment, it requires opening your eyes, it requires being part of something.”
Hewitt started the project in 2019 to “inspire optimism for Americans coping with political polarization and pandemic stress,” according to a press release. Billboards and sculptures displaying the word have appeared in several US cities in the Northeast including Philadelphia, Jersey City and Greenwich, Connecticut.
Before moving to Maine in 2010, he lived in downtown Manhattan for several decades with his wife. His artwork can also be seen at the Whitney and Museum of Modern Art.
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