Australian artist Gemma O’Brien has had her signature bold super-graphics displayed on the most iconic screen in the world; the Times Square billboard in New York City.
It is part of a public art campaign as the United States continues to suffer the highest number of deaths and cases of the COVID-19 virus.
Across the city at the epicentre of the pandemic, large-scale art has been deployed to share safety messages, show gratitude for frontline workers and celebrate the resilience of all Americans.
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My artwork is in the heart of @timessquarenyc sending a message of gratitude to the rest of the world: Thank You Essential Workers!🖤🖤🖤 This piece was created as part of a citywide public art campaign initiated by Poster House NYC, Print Magazine, Times Square Arts, and For Freedoms that went live across New York last week. Artists and designers from around the globe were asked to create messages of love, gratitude, and solidarity with frontline workers, and I was honoured to be a part of the group. In addition to electronic billboards in Times Square, these #PSA artworks will display across 1,800 digital billboards and screens in all five boroughs of NYC and one on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel. But don’t go and find them! Stay home and view the gallery at Posterhouse Museum online. Sending love & positive vibes to all! 🖤🖤🖤 Thank you to @posterhousenyc, @printmag and @debbiemillman for getting me involved in this initiative and a shout out to the amazing artists, media partners people that made this happen: @mairakalman, @zzdesign, @jessicahische, #PaulaScher, @edelrodriguez,@olabaldych, @seymourchwast, @pablodelcan, @matt.dorfman, @joehollier, @mirkoiliccorp, @brightworkpress, @richardmcguirehere, @championsdesign , @debbiemillman, @mrseaves101, @emilyoberman, @psahre, @klaas_verplancke_official, @strickandwilliams,@thedailyheller, @tsqarts, @forfreedoms, @linknycofficial. 🖤🖤🖤
“My artwork is in the heart of @timessquarenyc sending a message of gratitude to the rest of the world: Thank You Essential Workers!🖤🖤🖤!!” O’Brien wrote on Instagram.
O’Brien’s work, which is black and white and illustratively bellows a simple gratitude: THANK YOU ESSENTIAL WORKERS, was displayed last night at the heart of the city of 8.4 million, and joins more than 1,800 digital billboards across the city including above Lincoln Tunnel, Times Square and LinkNYC kiosks across Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, Staten Island, and Queens.
New York based organisations including Times Square Arts, New York museum Poster House, Print Magazine and art collective, For Freedoms, are collaborating to use the city’s billboard and poster sites for a momentous pandemic campaign, as well as bring art to its citizens as museums and art galleries have been closed since the city went into lockdown on March 22nd.
O’Brien’s work shares the billboard space with influential American artists, designers and illustrators including Milton Glaser, who designed the I Heart NY logo, and Debbie Millman.
O’Brien studied lettering, illustration and typography at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney and has travelled the world completing hand-painted typographic murals, completing commercial assignments too for brands including Tiffany & Co, QANTAS, Audi, Volcom, Heineken, Nike, Google and editorial publications such as The New York Times.
In the last few years, the Sydney-born artist has received international awards for her works, including the Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Directors Club in 2018 and the ADC Young Gun. In 2016, she was named one of PRINT Magazine’s New Visual Artists: 15 under 30.
In May last year, O’Brien spoke to Vince Frost on his podcast “Design your Life” spoke about her intrepid life as an artist, trusting your own institution as a creative designer and the importance of being flexible.
“When I think about myself as an artist, I need to have solitary and be by myself to do my work. There’s a therapeutic component to what I do.”
At the time of publication 14,828 deaths have been recorded in New York City.