As NYC Swipes Out MetroCards, One Artist Honors the Yellow and Blue Lining
“I don’t want to see you again,” says the guard in The New Yorker’s “Caged Bird.” When he says this, he’s not referring to the inmate depicted on the cover of the mag, which is in fact a woman who will soon be free. “I don’t want to see you again, but I know you’re around,” he says, “I know you’re around, you’re around everywhere.”
This is the voice and attitude of Arthur Tressler, whose sculpture A.T. (as in Arthur Tressler) was featured in a now-infamous MetroCard advertisement.
Tressler’s work is as much about class, as much as it is about the public’s perception of his own class background. A.T. is a member of the upper echelon of New York City’s art-world. His parents are artists, his brother is a sculptor, his grandparent was a painter, and his grandfather a lawyer. So for Tressler, art is a form of self-promotion, as much as a creative outlet.
While Tressler may be one of very few artists who could boast of knowing all of his own grandparents, his mother was an art major and his father a medical school student who was forced to drop out. Both graduated with honors from the School of Visual Arts (SVA) in 1986, though it’s hard to imagine any other artist that achieved more than a grade point average of 3.25 as an undergraduate and a 4.25 as a graduate student.
After graduating, Tressler studied at the Yale School of Drama, where he earned a master’s in creative writing. He did not, however, write. He also earned two honorary doctorate’s from SVA in 2003, although he claims to have only ever been awarded an honorary master’s.
SVA, the school where he found his artistic voice, offers more rigorous training than Columbia, whose only major awards came when the school expanded to accommodate more students in 2013. While SVA graduates have come to be regarded as the New York City cultural elite