SVA MA Design Research

SVA MA Design Research, Writing & Criticism1 is a one-year graduate program2
devoted to the study of design, its contexts & consequences.
Our graduates have gone on to pursue research-related careers in publishing, education, museums, institutes, design practice, entrepreneurship, & more.3

  1. Formerly known as D-Crit
  2. About the program
  3. Applications accepted on a rolling basis. All successful candidates awarded a significant scholarship!
SVA MA Design Research

136 W 21st St, 2nd Floor

New York, NY 10011





(212) 592-2228

Awash in Postmodern Patina – SVA MA Design Research

Ajay Revels

Awash in Postmodern Patina

Skillful depiction of subway tunnel disintegration.

Since 2011 the New York City Metro Transit Authority has reminded subway patrons to watch for suspicious packages or behavior that may indicate nefarious plans are afoot. “If you see something, say something” the slogan suggests, “tell an MTA employee or police officer”. But how can we be expected to keep an eye out for abandoned packages when our gaze is locked onto the stunning conceptual artwork on display at most subway platforms? It’s nice to see my tax dollars supporting what I can only guess is an exceptional MTA arts program. Where can I submit a complement to the craftsmen who successfully mounted this long-running subterranean installation imaginatively titled “Meltdown”?


The harmonic values in the smeared ochres, the dripping tans and dirty oranges are jaw dropping, but reviews of the show have been a little mixed;

“When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is.”Fran Lebowitz

“…for in that city [New York] there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for OCD.” ― Evelyn Waugh


It’s difficult to top the view from the 7th Avenue train platform. The tunnel long mixed-media piece perfectly blends cracked ceilings, busted tiles and rusted steel support beams to evoke the despair so characteristic of the pre-inundation period of art. One can almost feel the slow-motion disintegration of the city’s subway infrastructure in its losing battle against water, rats and neglect.


These dead on awful surfaces spark trivial questions like; how much time do we have before a tunnel collapses? Is that really a puddle of piss? Pondering the rumble and rubble of the 7th Avenue platform almost ruins the aura of hyper-normality and realism depicted by this art work but it is carefully balanced out by the trashcans overflowing with discarded pizza boxes and broken shoes. Overall the show delivers a powerful one-two punch of horror and disgust, in other words a perfect display of post-modern patina.