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How Art Creates a Calmer Commute

A new exhibition at New York City’s Society of Illustrators displays sanity-saving transit art.
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Maybe you’re gagging because a fellow passenger is painting her nails a few seats away, or shards of your neighbor’s chips have piled in your lap. You check your phone every few seconds—the grinding stop-and-start train traffic will definitely make you late, if not nauseated. You’re ready to bail on the subway and walk the rest of the way—or swim across the East River. That’s a good time to take deep breaths and scan the car for a poster to look at.

Take this one: A willowy girl embraces her heavy bass case. An elderly woman in a checkered smock perches between bags of leafy greens. Two dapper mustachioed men in houndstooth suits and red neckerchiefs share a knowing glance. A tourist in a telltale t-shirt cranes to study the map. A rabbi hunches over his prayer book. A couple leans in for a peck.