An art installation, called “We Were Strangers Once Too,” is standing in the middle of Times Square in New York City. Although Valentine’s is the theme and timing, it is actually a public data sculpture which highlights the significant roles of immigrants in the founding and development of the Big Apple.
In a fragile time in the United States, this installation is not only timely but also significant. Measuring about 10 feet high, it has 33 poles that have colors and inscriptions that represent many different places where many foreign-born New Yorkers came from. You can move around the sculpture to reveal such information.
However, once you get to the front of the sculpture, you’ll find a gigantic heart shape dominating the installation. Designed by the Office for Creative Research, this larger than life sculpture won this year’s Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition.
Jer Thorp of the Office for Creative Research, the Brooklyn-based art studio that created the installation, said he and the rest of the team wanted to emphasize the positive impact NYC’s 3 million immigrants have on the city in time for Valentine’s Day.
“It’s really what defines New York City is and it so seemed really obvious for us what we wanted to do in this climate,” he said. As a Canadian immigrant himself, he hoped this piece of art would counter negative and hateful thoughts that have arisen since last year’s election results.
Interestingly enough, the winner was already selected way before President Trump’s controversial travel ban, something that has put the immigration debate in the limelight and causing a lot of reaction from immigrants and US-born people alike.
Thorp said his group collected the data from the 2015 American Census Survey, and naturally the countries with the most city residents took up more space on the poles.
You don’t need to pay anything to see it, interact with it, or take photos. You can just check it out at the south part of Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th streets, until March 5th.
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Photos: Justin Bettman of Times Square NYC Arts