The MTA reopened the 167th Street B/D station in the Bronx last week, after five months of major repairs and renovations, including new concrete and metal platforms, stairs, beams and columns; new LED lighting; digital signage for real-time service information; new turnstiles; and brighter lightning. As with other station updates, there's also new artwork, and the 167th Street station has stunning new murals that pay tribute to figures important to the community.

"The portraits feature renowned figures of history and culture, sourced from photographs and translated into glass mosaic," the MTA said in a press release. The murals, called Beacons, are by Brooklyn-based artist Rico Gatson, who incorporated portraits of the subjects— Gil Scott-Heron; Tito Puente; Celia Cruz; Audre Lorde; James Baldwin; Maya Angelou, Reggie Jackson; and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor—with strong lines in red, orange, yellow, black, grey, and green. The press release added:


is a celebration of the energy and spirit of individuals who have been influential within the Bronx community and have received positive acclaim for their cultural, political and artistic contributions...

The portraits radiate with beauty and pride of these influential figures, and invite travelers to reflect on the past as well as find inspiration for the future. The station’s mosaic murals are an extension of Gatson’s earlier Icons series, showing new ways to present biography and photography in a contemporary, bold and graphic way. Gatson’s artwork reveals a mix of influences—performance, conceptualism, minimalism and constructivism, to name a few—which are combined with an interest in history and representation.

"It was an honor working with MTA Arts & Design on Beacons to have my artwork now become a permanent part of the subway system that I have been using for the past 30 years since I first moved to New York," Gatson told Gothamist. "Beacons is my way of thanking the Bronx for the inspiration it has given to me, to these eight giants of their respective fields, and to the city in general."

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It is with excitement and honor that I share this project “Beacons” eight permanent mosaic tile portraits at the 167th street station on the B, D train in the Bronx. It has been a year in the making and I am very grateful to all involved. Thanks to @mtaarts #sandrabloodworth @yalling_nyc and Lydia Bradshaw for this opportunity and the massive support. Thank you to #miottomosaics for the exquisite work, patience, generosity and kindness. Thank you to the various figures/ “Beacons” their families, estates and the many photographers that granted permission to use the likeness for each portrait which include Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Celia Cruz, Gil Scott-Herron, Reggie Jackson, Audre Lorde, Tito Puente and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Please visit the station if you are riding the B, D train through the Bronx or on your way to the @bronxmuseum or @afhbronx #mayaangelou #jamesbaldwin #titopuente #celiacruz #gilscottheron #audrelorde #reggiejackson #justicesotomayor #❤️

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You can see the murals of Gil Scott-Heron, Audre Lorde, Celia Cruz, and James Baldwin on the southbound platform, while the murals of Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Reggie Jackson, Tito Puente, and Maya Angelou are on the northbound platform.