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WMATA reveals cherry blossom and bluebell-inspired Potomac Yard designs

Potomac Yard south pavilion artwork by Rob Ley (image via WMATA)

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has unveiled the bluebell and cherry blossom-inspired art that will wrap around the exterior of the new Potomac Yard Metro station.

Artist Rob Ley spoke about the designs at a reception hosted by the City of Alexandria back in January.

The artwork uses a technique called halftone to create the impression of a field of bluebells around the south pavilion and cherry blossoms above the entrance to the north pavilion.

“The imagery is vague in the way it shows up, this is for a reason,” Ley explained. “People ask ‘if you’re going to make imagery, why don’t you make it more visible so I can see the flower directly.’ There’s kind of a reason for this. While I’m well aware it’s more satisfying because you say it’s about flowers so I want to see the bluebells, I think there’s something to be said for the longevity.”

Ley explained that non-literal artwork can evolve with the understanding of the viewer.

“I had a teenager come up to me: he saw a project [I worked on] when he was five and he saw clouds,” Ley said. “When he was about 13, he said he saw it again and could see the river. That touched me. The point is not for it to be so vague you see nothing, but not so literal that you see it once and then it fades into the background.”

Potomac Yard north pavilion artwork by Rob Ley (image via WMATA)

While any public art has to contend with the forces of nature, Ley said human interference is the bigger concern. The artwork is elevated to deliberately be kept out of reach to avoid transit riders taking a souvenir of the station home.

“My responsibility is to create something that’s beautiful and looks delicate,” Ley said, “but at the heart of what it is, it’s typical and durable.”

WMATA is hoping for May 2023 as the opening date for the station.

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