3 After Effects of NYC’s Rendezvous with The Subway Therapy Wall

subway therapy wall, nyc

The Subway Therapy Wall inn NYC , Rendezvous En New YorkAfter this last presidential election a year ago, there have been a lot of emotions coming to the surface both positive and negative in this country. This week, in particular, has turned out to be either a great bit of joy or the worst day ever for your team depending on which side of the line you sit. I won’t get into an ethical argument about who I voted for and why I’m not in the mood for a political discussion. It’s tragic that it is seen as just sport because the outcome affects me on so many levels and it’s beyond troubling how eye-opening the last year has been for me as a citizen of this country.

Even though this blog is my creative space and I allowed my opinion; my sole opinion isn’t the focus of this post. This post is about an artist’s reaction to everyone’s collective opinion and sentiment. Which is why I think it turned into a great art think piece. The piece started in the Union Square Subway Station in Manhattan and was titled the Subway Therapy wall. It was all over the news and social media documented the hell out of it, in a positive way. It lasted more than the intended time, which ended up being three months in the subway station that was originally only supposed to last three weeks. Actually, it was amazing that it remained in such pristine condition considering that it was displayed in such a high traffic area.

What was The Subway Therapy Wall About?

The Subway Therapy wall was started by Matthew “Levee” Chavez. Before the Post-it Notes on the walls of the subway station, he would sit at a fold up table with pen and paper and offer a notebook to anonymously write whatever was bothering you. Sometimes people didn’t actually write anything, they would just talk and say that they felt like they just went to therapy after it was over, Levee stated on his website.

And as volatile as the past election season was, the day after he started offering Post-It Notes to travelers in the station to express how they were feeling and a huge collection began to appear on the walls. The first week, the notes were really emotional and the collection kept growing. At this point, people had begun bringing their own Post-its and even coming up with large collages made up of all Post-its. What started on one wall grew to a whole corridor of the train station from floor to ceiling from one entry to the other.The Subway Therapy Wall inn NYC , Rendezvous En New York

What Were The Effects of The Subway Therapy Wall?

It was a catharsis, that happened in a very stressed filled environment. An unseen tension was broken and it had very surprising outcomes.

  1. New York was a powder keg of emotions after that political season, so it helped people, especially young people feel heard. Millennials were already disillusioned with the political process and this election’s results didn’t help. They got to air out their feelings in a communal place and feel validated because they were so many others feeling the same way.
  2. It was a positive outlet and made people see their neighbor’s suffering or perceived suffering as their own. It sparked empathy and discussion about something strangers wouldn’t approach each other to talk about since politics is usually seen as a taboo subject.
  3. For those that were going to give up on the political process and needed encouragement to fight on and stay engaged, they came out the other end energized knowing that being politically active isn’t about one night but continuing to stay plugged in even at the local level.

What Became of The Subway Therapy Wall?

The governor of New York named it a state treasure to be kept in the New York History archives. If that isn’t a testament to the “little people” I don’t know what is. All the notes were carefully cataloged. And the artist, Matthew Chavez has gone on to compile the notes into a coffee table book and is on tour promoting it. Matthew “Levee” Chavez has done similar therapy walls in Charlottesville, Brussels, and Malmo Sweden to help these cities heal after tragedies. Subway Therapy Wall in NYC , Rendezvous En New York

Were you able to see the Subway Therapy wall when it was up? Has a piece of art ever moved you to feel like this? Was there a similar think piece that popped up in your city? Tell me what you thinking in the comments below, I can’t wait to read.Subway Therapy Wall in NYC Rendezvous En NewYork

Until our next rendezvous…




36 thoughts on “3 After Effects of NYC’s Rendezvous with The Subway Therapy Wall

  1. I think it says a lot about the upheaval the current government has caused and the desperate need to be heard by young people. I think it’s a great outlet but the best outlet will be at the voting booth in 2018 when hopefully we will drain the swamp.

    1. Walking through the station hallway was like visiting church. It would get very peaceful and slow passing the display. I loved it.

  2. I hadn’t heard of this–I must be living under a rock out here in Minnesota–but I love it. I agree with your conclusion, this is a testament to the “little” people. And it makes me proud that a governor saw it as more than a nuisance, but as an authentic expression of art manifesting reality. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. It’s ok. Not everything New York does makes the national news. Lol. But do check out the website, it’s really interesting. Thank you visiting me, and come back again.

  3. Wow I was tearing up just reading about it before you had to even explain why it was so effective. <3 What a beautiful unifying thing, all the voices from all the perspectives crying out together in one corridor. Beautiful.

    1. Thank you! I actually tried writing this a year ago right after the election but could not find the words to finish the post. I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

  4. My head must have been in a bucket. How did I miss this phenomenal wall?
    I’m noticing a lot more non-fiction books being sold at the local book store and wonder if they are outselling fiction. People have never been more stressed out!!!

  5. It looks so colourful and bright. Even though the words are full of angst it is quite a pretty looking therapy wall.

    It is sad that there are so many people that don’t fee like their voices are being heard in politics. 🙁

    1. If you check out the website you can some of the more artistic ones. Some people were really creative. Maybe this will make some people go into government at the local level.

  6. Thank you for sharing, Trudy! I hadn’t heard about this and LOVE it. What a positive way to deal with all the emotions happening at the time.

    1. You’re welcome. It was a special place to be. Hopefully there won’t be a reason for the next election but it was comforting to know that there was a positive outlet there.

    1. It is amazing. I haven’t checked if he has returned to the station for a new round of therapy. Last time I looked he was still traveling to promote his book. He’s big time now! ?

  7. It proves that writing is good for us 🙂 Sad that so many Americas did not vote. Same in NZ, the apathy towards voting. I suppose the world has to make good of a bad situation. Let’s hope 2018 is less painful for those having to deal with conflict on a daily basis.

  8. This is so good to know about! I had no idea but I think it’s brilliant. Thanks for sharing the wall and the outcome, I can imagine the feeling of being heard and getting your thoughts out. Just one little question- how did the post it notes stay sticky for that long?

    1. I wished that I had captured some of the more creative walls before they were taken down. But I’m sure that they are in the book.

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