Trains, Art, History, #Humanity

Sometimes everything just falls into place.

I attended a special event yesterday at Chicago Union Station, unveiling a new artwork in the Station’s new/old Metropolitan Lounge, located in the lower southeast corner of the building.

The piece was created by Ashley Pastore, a graduate of The School of the Art Institute’s M.F.A. program in Print Media, as part of the ongoing restoration and rehabilitation of the Station.  This week’s announcement of a proposed addition to the Station is only the latest in a multi-year effort to bring this magnificent building back to its original glory.  Pastore’s involvement was coordinated through the MS program in Historic Preservation at the School of the Art Institute.

Pastore’s four-part mural, below

incorporates fragments of a wallpaper mural that was installed in 1925 in the Station’s Women’s Lounge.

These are images that were part of her creative process:





While the wallpaper fragments were the tangible inspiration, the intangible inspiration came from a 2016 article in the New York Times by Gabriel Kahane, entitled “How the Amtrak Dining Car Could Heal the Nation.” The image below summarizes how Pastore thought about the piece:


What struck me was her insight that “traveling by train encourages us to spend time experiencing the landscape and allows us the opportunity to appreciate the different viewpoints of the people we meet while traveling.  The article talks about how within the Amtrak dining car there is space and time for people of varying backgrounds to converse and actually hear one another.”

The intimacy and relaxation suggested by her statement struck a chord with me.  A couple of hours before I saw this, I had been reading an article by Ned Kaufman, “Moving Forward: Futures for a Preservation Movement.”  He concluded that article by writing that preservationists “should never forget that their most enduring strategic strengths are cultural, historical, aesthetic, and communitarian; and that broad, lasting success can come only from them.”

This is how art works, tying the strands of history and humanity together.  I’m so glad I went to that art opening.


2 thoughts on “Trains, Art, History, #Humanity

  1. Like the artwork. Collage? Last time I was on Amtrak was in the NE corridor where dinning cars were a thing of the past. But did like the landscape.

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