Press Releases

June 21, 2023
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NYC DOT Announces Multiple Artists to Enliven and Beautify the Walls of the 191st Street Tunnel in Northern Manhattan

A variety of five artists were selected to aesthetically fill the tunnel with their painted work, keeping a focus on community and culture in the Washington Heights neighborhood.

New York — New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today announced the selection of five artists to beautify the walls of the DOT-owned and maintained 191st Street Tunnel in Washington Heights to reflect the neighborhood's great culture and identity. Today's announcement is the next step in the process following NYC DOT's issuance of a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking submissions of bold, colorful designs. A great wealth and diversity of proposals were submitted, and the five artists (out of 57 applicants) were selected to revitalize the décor and aesthetics of the tunnel used by thousands of subway riders each day to access New York City Transit's 1 Train via Broadway and St. Nicholas Avenue. Though displaying the characteristics of an above-ground tunnel, the structure is categorized as a City-owned mapped street above one of the system's deepest stations at 180 feet below street level. NYC DOT appreciates the long-time community involvement in the matter, including the partnership of Council Member Carmen De La Rosa and other elected officials. Artists will begin work in the Fall with help of local volunteers.

"We took quick action to address a situation that had become blighted inside the 191st Street tunnel and now we have a showcase of talented artists ready to take their understanding of the local community and culture and make a vibrant statement," said New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. "I thank all those talented artists who expressed an interest in this project, many of whom live in or have ties to Washington Heights and Inwood."

Artists Selected:

Vicky Azcoitia: The Washington Heights-based artist works with photography and design. Dedicating most of her time to freelance photography, photo-editing, and graphic design, she also works on developing her own documentary photography projects. Azcoitia currently teaches digital photography at the Bronx River Art Center and is a member artist at Cornerstone Studios.

Daniel Bonilla: A Washington Heights/Inwood-born and raised artist who is curating the Riverside-Inwood Neighborhood Gardens 'Art in the Garden' for the third year in a row. Bonilla has been an artist his entire life, working previously with Colossal Media and independently since 2019, he strives to do public art in The Heights and Inwood area to feel connected to his neighborhood and roots.

Denise Coke: A Queens-born Caribbean-American who is based in Jamaica, Queens, is an award-winning creative director and owner of $NP Designs who is best described as an augmented reality artist, muralist, and digital artist. Coke visited Washington Heights when younger to visit friends and family and she references the many cultural aspects of Uptown in her work, such as bodegas and bustling city life. She has earned commissions from The Madison Square Garden Company, New York City's Department of Education, Nike, and Google, while her work is showcased globally.

Rasheeda Johnson: A multidisciplinary artist with 13 years as a Washington Heights resident, Johnson has had the opportunity to experience the rich cultures represented in the area which she uses as inspiration for her work. Johnson was exposed to art at a very early age with a scholarship to Saturday art classes at the Carnegie Museum in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Her passion for creating visual art has not wavered over the past 40 years as she looks toward the next 40 creating art in her community.

Carla Torres: A Washington Heights-based artist since 2006, originally from Ecuador, Torres works across several media including drawing, painting, illustration, animation, and murals. Torres has been commissioned by NYC DOT, the Garment District Alliance, NYC Health + Hospitals, the HBO Max Latinx Diaspora Campaign, and Google NYC, and has received a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Creative Engagement grant three times since 2019.

"Congratulations to the incredible artists selected to adorn the walls of this iconic tunnel with their art," said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. "I'm confident these artists' Washington Heights roots will inform the murals they create and the legacy they leave for the community."

"Art can often express what words cannot," said Congress Member Adriano Espaillat. "It is important to invest in the beautification of our shared spaces, while also commemorating our community's history and culture. The work of these five artists will be seen by thousands of subway riders along the 191st Street Tunnel in Washington Heights every day and will inspire all throughout our community. I commend the Adams administration and New York City DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez for kickstarting this exciting new initiative, and I am excited to see what these artists will create through their artistic talent and gifts to share the vibrancy of Washington Heights through their displays."

"Art has the power to transform spaces and uplift communities. I applaud the NYC DOT's initiative in selecting these talented artists to bring their creativity to the 191st Street Tunnel," said State Senator Robert Jackson. "Their work will not only beautify the tunnel but also reflect the vibrant culture and identity of Washington Heights. This project is a testament to the rich diversity of our city and the importance of investing in public art. I look forward to the positive impact it will have on the thousands of subway riders who pass through this tunnel each day."

"We are excited to see the community come together for the visual restoration of the 191st tunnel," said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. "This location is a beloved community landmark that deserves sanitation and beautification investment, and we will continue to get that done."

DOT Art Background

The New York City Department of Transportation's ("NYC DOT") Art Program ("DOT Art") oversees the installation of public artworks on NYC DOT property throughout New York City in partnership with a diverse body of professional artists, galleries, business improvement districts and arts, community-based and other nonprofit organizations. City sidewalks, fences, triangles, medians, bridges, jersey barriers, step streets, pedestrian plazas, and other unique project sites serve as canvases and foundations for temporary murals, sculptures, interventions, and cultural programming. In addition, NYC DOT Art coordinates the conservation and maintenance of NYC DOT's permanent art collection and collaborates with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Percent for Art Program to commission permanent art as part of the Percent for Art law. For more information about NYC DOT Art, visit