This work, created as part of the Midtown Exchange development, was created by long time neighborhood resident Ta-coumba Aiken. The imagery represents movement as figures in the mosaic appear to be in motion. The figures do not represent any particular people as this station is used by people from all over the Twin Cities. In the spirit of celebrating our similarities and differences, motion is the common element of people coming through this transit station.
Ta-coumba Aiken is a St. Paul artist who engages in public and collaborative art.
Aiken has been an art and community activist for over 40 years. He has created more than 300 artworks, most of which are displayed in the Twin Cities. His works embody themes reflecting local history using motifs of "rhythmic patterns" or "spirit writing" and a distinctive process of coloration and shape building. He creates art to evoke a positive spirit in a desire to heal the hearts and souls of people and their surrounding communities.
He was a USA Fellowship nominee in 2016 and was a 2013 recipient of the Beautiful Countryside International Award in Shanghai, China.
"I create art to heal, people and their communities, by evoking a positive spirit." –Ta-coumba Aiken
The Metro Transit Public Art Collection is one of the largest collections of public art in Minnesota. There are 38 sites with 70 public artworks created by 32 artists. If you look at a typical site, like Fairview Avenue Station, which is considered one site and one public artwork, there are eight separate mosaics at that station. Small Kindnesses: Weather Permitting by Janet Zweig is considered one public artwork, but consists of 24 separate pieces at seven different stations. This actually means that the Metro Transit Public Art Collection of 70 public artworks could be considered to have more than 350 individual public art pieces.
Twenty of these works are integrated into the construction of light-rail stations to such a degree that the station itself is the work of art. By comparison, in 2016 the City of St. Paul has 84 artworks at 63 sites by 44 artists and the City of Minneapolis has 64 artworks at 55 sites by 57 artists.
The art in the Metro Transit Collection varies greatly with everything from ceramic tiles, to laser-cut metals, to laminated and screened glass, to bronze, stone and wood sculptures. There are even interactive pieces with screens and circuit boards.
Small Kindnesses: Weather Permitting by Janet Zweig – located at seven Blue Line stations
Midas Fence by Deborah Mersky and paver design by Richard Elliott – American Boulevard Station
Ancient Waters by Janet Lofquist – Robert Street Station
The Great Northern 4-8-4 Mountain Class by Myckelburst and Sears – Union Depot Station
Urban Circle by Cliff Garten – 36th Street Station