Recently, I stumbled upon the New York City Subway’s Life Underground. For those who know what this series is, I know what you’re probably thinking: how did you recently just stumble upon this? Well, to keep things short, the subway system confuses me (NYC Street Cred Just Went Down 5 Points). I don’t know how, but it does, and this causes me to opt for other means of transportation. Plus I also prefer to walk anyway.

So anyways, “Life Underground” is a series of public artwork created by American Sculpture Tom Otterness. This series was commissioned back in 2001 by the MTA’s Arts for Transit program, which has commissioned more than 170 awesome works of art that can be found throughout different facilities that the MTA owns and operates.

What had really sparked me to write this was what I saw when I adventured into the subway the other day, with a fellow Eat Up New York member. We took it downtown for some good eats and on our way back I noticed a couple, who I assumed to be tourists, ask someone if they knew “what these were for” and pointed at the snake you see in the picture below.

Life Underground

The gentleman that they had asked replied, “Ha, I’m not sure, they are just sculptures I think.” Now, me being very into street art, and art in general, I knew that there was no way these were just sculptures placed there to spice up the subway stations. I knew there had to be more to it. As we continued walking around the subway, I kept seeing more of these bronze sculptures. You could tell that each of these sculptures were created by the same artist, because although they had a similar look to them, each one them told tell their own story.

As we waited for the next train back toward midtown, we stood next to these big feet. At this point, I was determined to find out who created this series of artwork and what it all meant. When I got back to the office, I started my research and with my incredible googling skills, searched “big bronze feet in NYC subway.” And, like the good ol’ search engine Google is, it returned a result for me that answered all of the above!

Life Underground NYC Subway

With Life Underground being one of the most popular artwork series  in the subway system I couldn’t believe that I had never seen or heard of it before. However, for the gentleman who answered they are just sculptures, and seemed to be a seasoned subway veteran, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!

Now, if you are to gain anything from this article, I hope it’s not that I am still confused on how the subway system works but, more so about this awesome artwork series “Life Underground” by Tom Otterness, and that there are a ton more awesome public art pieces out there! I highly recommend getting out there and going to explore this series and the others out there, especially because this series appeals to all ages! If you do, be sure to take pictures and tag us on instagram or twitter with @eatupnewyork or using #EatUpNewYork!

New Call-to-action

About The Author