Alexandra Norwick doesn’t spend her time on transit idly.
While riding buses and trains over the past several years, she’s created more than 100 sketches of her fellow passengers – a resting woman with her head tilted back, a man with shaggy eyebrows and a long stare, a tense and nearly tearful man typing deliberately on his phone.
“You see all these glances of emotion when people are on transit,” she said.
Fifteen of those faces, and the emotions that come with them, have now made it from Norwick’s small, cloth-covered sketchbook onto an unlikely new medium: an upright piano.
The piano is part of “Pianos on Parade, an initiative that brings 25 decorated pianos to downtown Minneapolis sidewalks each June. The project is produced by the mpls downtown council, Mpls Downtown Improvement District and The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association, in partnership with Keys 4/4 Kids.
The pianos are available for the public to play and will be used for scheduled performances at noon each Tuesday.
Norwick’s piano, titled “Voices on Transit,” is located at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Third Street, across from the Minneapolis Central Library.
In addition to 15 hand-drawn faces, the piano also includes familiar transit messages. Like the back door of a bus, the keyboard cover presents this invitation to anyone who sits down: “Touch here to open.”
Speaking beside the piano, Norwick said she saw Pianos on Parade as a unique opportunity to showcase the diversity she encounters while riding transit – something that can easily be missed while looking at a phone or otherwise distracted.
“It was a way to give people an opportunity to look at each other and to see how diverse they really are,” she said.
The piano is also a reflection of the way Norwick moves through each day. A native of Ukraine, she has lived in the Twin Cities for the past four years and still has a strong sense of being a visitor in an unfamiliar place.
Taking just a few minutes to notice and draw the people around her, she said, is a “good way for me to explore and connect with the local community.”
Pianos on Parade
See more of Norwick's sketches on Instagram
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