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SEPTA to Unveil Art Initiative at Suburban Station

January 2, 2020

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On Tuesday, January 7, 2020, SEPTA is unveiling an initiative at Suburban Station that makes art more accessible to the community. The program will feature artists and cultural institutions from the Philadelphia area. New exhibits will be on display every quarter.

SEPTA partnered with AthenianRazak LLC, the company that manages space in Suburban Station, and photographer Shasta Bady to create the project. Shasta Bady is an aspiring scientist, visual artist, and sporadic papermaker. Her influences include Lyndsey Addario, Sebastiao Salgado, and Malick Sidibe. She enjoys exploring the subtleties of light, color, and staying available to visual spontaneity. Through her art she aims to celebrate the depth of our connectedness and commonalities.

In 2018, Bady began photographing people on her daily SEPTA commute to capture the everyday beauty of Philadelphians.

The first exhibit, “As Above, So Below” puts Bady’s photos of SEPTA riders in the spotlight. As Above, So Below is a sanguine study of public transportation in the city of Philadelphia – a photographic exploration of its architecture, its passengers, in a space of continuous movement.

"SEPTA serves a diverse community of riders. Access to Philadelphia’s public transportation system is today open to a majority of the population – with the exception of people with disabilities, who still cannot access every station, " says Bady. "As a black woman simultaneously riding and documenting, there is another aspect that links my present occupation of the trains to our history of segregation. Access to public transportation was denied to people of color: a series of Supreme Court decisions have dictated who can ride and where to. Thirty years after the Civil War, the Withdraw Car Act of 1890 was the first official law mandating segregation on trains in Louisiana. In 1896, Plessy vs. Ferguson upheld racial segregation laws for public facilities, and more than half a century later in 1954, Brown vs. the Board of Education decided that 'separate facilities are inherently unequal'. In 1956 the Supreme Court finally ruled that segregation on public buses and transportation was against the law."

"I am a daily passenger. No ride is ever the same," says Bady. "The trains give me a sense of independence. The trains are consistent, they run on a schedule. What I don’t know is what I will experience or who I will encounter on each journey. It’s a love affair with constant motion and the unknown… and meeting new people whose lives would otherwise not intersect with mine."

The event starts at noon in Suburban Station (16th Street & JFK Boulevard) near Nutty World.

Watch a WMM Video Portrait featuring Shasta Bady:

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