Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York

Percent for Art

   Jane Greengold

Spirals, Terra-cotta, glass, bronze, mixed media, 2000



Completion Date:



Terra-cotta, glass, bronze, mixed media


6 Glass blocks: 8" x 8" x 6", 4 Bronze plaques: 8" x 8" x 1/2"


Middle College High School at Medgar Evers College


1186 Carroll Street, Brooklyn


Davis, Brody, Bond

Sponsor Agency:

Board of Education

Design Agency:

School Construction Authority

Jane Greengold's work at Middle College High School was inspired by her research into chaos theory and contemporary science. Spirals, a multi-part installation located on each of the school's five floors, explores the different ways spirals appear in space and nature. The largest of the pieces, a 12' 6" x 20' (3.8 x 6 m) terra-cotta mural of a spiral galaxy based on NASA color-enhanced photographs, is located at the school's entrance. Glass blocks set into the walls of the second and fourth floors feature sandblasted images of natural spirals such as ferns and the centers of sunflowers. Six-million-year-old fossils embedded in Saharan limestone are also installed in the walls on these floors. Four bronze plaques depicting spiral images from the Ashanti, Greek, Irish, and Andean cultures are mounted on the walls of the fifth floor, and a spiral of the mathematical golden rule appears on the school's fence.

About the Artist...
Greengold was commissioned by 1995 MTA Art for Transit Program to do a permanent installment in the Grand Army Plaza subway station. The work, Wings for the IRT: The Irresistible Romance of Travel, is based on the winged women in the quadriga on the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Arch above the station. Greengold took the imagery from that dominant architectural structure, but added a humorous reference to the subway station context. On the arch, the winged women are leading in a chariot bearing Columbia, the symbol of victory of the North in the Civil War. But in the subway, Greengold feels that people most want to celebrate the arrival of the train. Greengold's research revealed that the original logo of the IRT was a winged train, so she incorporated facets of the IRT logo. Multi-layered referencing is typical of Greengold's work.

Artist Quote...
"[Spirals] is a project made specifically for this school, based on the curriculum of the school, and catering, on many levels, to the needs of students. My public work is always site-specific, about either the function, meaning, history, or appearance of a site." -- Jane Greengold, 2001