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Times Square's billboards now display letters of thanks to essential workers

Famous artists are thanking and raising money for essential workers across New York City.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Major artists are using New York City's ad spaces, from Times Square to Brooklyn's Atlantic Terminal, to not only thank essential workers but raise funds for those who are immigrants.

Alixa Garcia, Carrie Mae Weems, Christine Sun Kim, Christine Wong Yap, Duke Riley, Jenny Holzer, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Mel Chin, Nekisha Durrett, Paula Crown, Pedro Reyes, and Xaviera Simmons have all designed big public service announcements in their respective styles.

They will be shown on 1,800 LinkNYC screens and more than 300 JCDecaux screens in NYC, Boston and Chicago.

PSA Duke Riley
PSA by Duke RileyPhotograph: Courtesy Maria Baranova
PSA Christine Wong Yap
PSA by Christine Wong YapPhotograph: Courtesy Maria Baranova
PSA Carrie Mae Weems
PSA by Carrie Mae WeemsPhotograph: Courtesy Maria Baranova
PSA Pedro Reyes
PSA by Pedro ReyesPhotograph: Courtesy Maria Baranova

In addition, a limited edition print by Pedro Reyes, produced by Brooklyn Editions, is on sale for $295 with net proceeds going to The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), the advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York. NYIC launched the #NYunitedFund to help ensure the health and safety of New York’s immigrants on the frontlines.

"Social distancing is a privilege," Reyes said in a statement about his print. "I chose this drawing as an homage to those workers who work with their hands and on whom we depend to keep society going."

The PSA collection is the second phase of a multi-city campaign, which is on view on digital displays throughout all five boroughs of New York City and on JCDecaux screens in New York, Boston and Chicago. Organized by Poster House, Times Square Arts, For Freedoms and PRINT, the hope is to celebrate those keeping us going.

The first phase included messages of public safety, gratitude, pride and solidarity with essential workers.

"Especially in times of uncertainty and change, artists can figuratively — and in Times Square literally — shine a light on hidden truths and celebrate those people and phenomena which are often unseen or unacknowledged," said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance.

In addition to the Morgan Stanley, American Eagle, Maefield Development, and Branded Cities’ NASDAQ and Thomson Reuters screens in Times Square, you can find the works on 1,774 LinkNYC kiosks, F.Y.eye screens in New York’s settlement houses, senior centers, food pantries, and health clinics, on JCDecaux screens and on the Pearl Media billboards at Atlantic Terminal.

"Art asks us to pause, to take a moment to consider what is in front of us," For Freedoms said in a statement. "We hope that this project will further encourage us to pause, consider and appreciate those whose jobs are essential, who return to their nightly hospital shifts or daily customer service responsibilities, to guarantee that we are taken care of through this pandemic and beyond."

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