The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) has premiered Trucks of Art, an art exhibit that challenges artists to decorate five new collection vehicles with hand-painted designs. The trucks’ artwork, displayed in Times Square, encourages New Yorkers to think sustainably and honors the 7,500 sanitation workers who keep New York City healthy, safe and clean. This is the first time the DSNY has transformed the collection trucks into artists’ canvases; however, DSNY says Trucks of Art builds upon the department’s history of working with artists.
“These Trucks of Art … beautify our cityscape while reminding New Yorkers that they’re our partners in keeping New York City healthy, safe and clean,” says Kathryn Garcia, sanitation commissioner for DSNY.
DSNY says nearly 100 artists submitted design concepts, with artists living in countries as far as Pakistan expressing interest in the project. Additionally, Trucks of Art was a zero-waste challenge. Artists used cans of New Yorkers’ unwanted paints collected from the department’s SAFE disposal events and special waste disposal sites.
Artists known as Dister, Lady K-Fever, Misha Tyutyunik, Victor A. Saint-Hilaire, Jillian White, as well as visual art students from New York City-based Energy Tech High School, all participated in Trucks of Art.
Dister’s truck illustrates the men and women of the DSNY who serve New Yorkers each day.
“My artwork is a depiction of sanitation workers and shows love to the NYC Department of Sanitation and to our neighborhoods,” Dister says. “Sanitation is a vital part of how we live our day-to-day lives and my work reminds people that sanitation workers are part of our community.”
Lady K-Fever’s truck is covered with flowers, birds and grass.
“We’re experiencing a global garbage problem, and I designed my mural to make people think about the beauty of our environment and how recycling can impact a positive future,” Lady K-Fever says.
Tyutyunik and Saint-Hilaire’s truck adds bold color to the collection routes it will serve.
“My mural honors the Department of Sanitation and brings an awareness of recycling to the New Yorkers who DSNY serves,” Tyutyunik says.
White brought a personal perspective to her Truck of Art.
“I purposely wanted to portray a female sanitation worker to symbolize how our workforce has grown and diversified to include many women serving New York City,” White says. “My art honors the DSNY workforce and also encourages recycling, because it displays New York’s strongest doing what they are known to do best—keeping our city clean.”
Alex Anastas, visual arts teacher at Energy Tech High School, led students in their effort to honor DSNY and encourage environmentalism with their truck.
“Our advanced art mural students studied public art including history, designing, creating and installing murals and public works. In Trucks of Art, they worked independently and collaboratively to best conceptualize and then beautify the truck,” Anastas says.
The New York City-based Times Square Alliance hosted the public premiere of Trucks of Art on Broadway, where the five vehicles were on display.
“DSNY is transforming trash to treasure in Times Square this week,” says Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. “Times Square has always been about creativity and transformation and more and more of it is a place of public art that fuses those things together. We are excited to have DSNY do this here.”
The trucks, offering painters nearly 400 square feet of canvas space, have dual bins, meaning they have two containment areas to separate materials. For example, the dual bins can isolate plastic, metal and glass from paper and cardboard. The Trucks of Art are the newest to join the fleet, and each will be assigned to routes after being on display for the public throughout the summer.