In Loving Memory of the MetroCard

Written and Filmed by Alyona Uvarova

Scanning to order food, swiping to fall in love, and tapping to ride – the Covid-19 pandemic perpetuated a digital epidemic. New York City staples lost to it include numerous delis, paper menus, and the MetroCard, which is set to fade out by 2024. But there is one New York artist who is not ready to let the card go.

Hidden within the confines of his East Village apartment, Thomas McKean has been challenging the constraints of MetroCard as an art material for over 20 years. Portraits, 3D sculptures, wordplays – he is yet to exhaust the potential of up-cycling the cart that is soon to go extinct.

I met the artist in a maze of mugs and antique plates. McKean opened his show “Off the rails: in the loving memory of the MetroCard” at a Manhattan dishware store. This is the story of one New Yorker who found his craft in staying away from the digital epidemic.

The show has sparked an overwhelming public interest in McKean’s art. Fishs Eddy has kept MetroCard art on display. Thomas McKean now has an Instagram account – @thomasmckean_nyc.

Alyona Uvarova is a freelance journalist and videographer from Russia. She has lived in China, Italy and is currently based in New York, USA. As an undergraduate, she is pursuing journalism and political science at NYU. Her passion is to share multicultural perspectives through writing and film in order to create a more unified world in which we acknowledge and accept our differences.

Insta: @alenkacc