Leave it to New Yorkers to find solace in a subway station.
Commuters have been flocking to “Subway Therapy,” a project started months ago by artist Matthew “Levee” Chavez that has taken on new meaning in the wake of the nation’s most divisive presidential election in recent history. Chavez sets up a table, displays his credentials – a certificate deeming him a PHB, or professional human being – and lets straphangers pour their hearts out on Post-it notes that fit neatly within subway tiles.
And this week, those Post-Its are covered in messages about the election, from the poignant to the profane, with dozens of them stretching down the long corridor that connects the 14th Street 1/2/3 station to the Sixth Avenue L stop.
“What surprised me the most is the numbers – I didn’t really expect there to be people that were so passionate about it,” Chavez said, standing beside his project this afternoon. “I did expect people to be awesome. I expected people to be able to take their energy and their frustration and their stress and channel it, with just a little bit of assistance, into something incredible.”
The walls are littered with brightly colored messages of support for Muslims, women, immigrants, people of color and others who might feel threatened by the policy proposals of president-elect Donald Trump. There are messages of support for Hillary Clinton, who fell short of her bid to be the first woman elected president.
Mirem Villamil, 50, of Brooklyn, came with her 13-year-old daughter Carmen in search of understanding. She said it’s been difficult discussing the election with co-workers who supported Trump.
“I work in public schools and some of the teachers there – our kids, the majority are recent immigrants, the majority of their parents are undocumented. How could you vote for Trump? How could you vote for Trump if you’re a woman? How can you vote for Trump if your students are girls? If they’re Muslim, and all different colors and all different languages and all different situations? How can you do that?” Villamil asked.
It was also difficult, she said, to discuss with her daughter, given Trump’s lewd comments about groping women without their consent.
“Wednesday morning, she woke up and said, ‘Mom does this mean more women are going to get raped? Does this mean that more women are going to be assaulted and that nothing is going to be done?’” Villamil said. “I’m still trying to find what to say to her.”
Below, you can find some of the messages people wrote on the wall, and some of the people who penned them.