Sue Hunter and Karima Sundarji began the collaboration for the Straphangers Lounge while standing on a New York City subway platform admiring the mosaic tile signs. They had long admired the gorgeous artwork of the mosaics in the subway stations—they would visit new ones as they were installed, admiring them as though they were an art exhibit in a museum. The women found it thrilling to see this ancient technique continued in new subway platform designs like those by Vik Muniz, Xenobia Bailey, William Wegman, and Nancy Blum.
Realizing the graphic quality of subway signs and the square motif of the mosaic tiles directly relate to knitting graphs, they began to ideate. It was a natural leap to represent these familiar and appealing mosaics in a textile format, to follow the mosaic pattern as a knitted object. Acknowledging the time, handiwork, and artistry that went into creating those mosaic signs, they were inspired to dedicate the same to their textile arts. Rendering the mosaics in a textile format evolved into the idea of recreating the subway in textiles as a reading and knitting space, and the Straphangers Lounge emerged. With the Straphangers Lounge project, they created a textile installation of a New York City subway car and platform.
While it started with the mosaic tiles, there is so much more to the subway. There is Poetry in Motion, MTA arts, the graphic design of the subway map, the different color palettes of the subway seats, and advertising posters within. It’s an inspiring muse: in fact, a mobile museum. The Straphangers Lounge is their homage to the many artisans who created this mobile museum.
Sue and Karima met through an Astoria, Queens-based knitting group. One of their favorite places to knit is on the subway. their favorite places to knit is on the subway.