In the days and weeks after the 2016 presidential election, Matthew Chavez showed up in the subway with stacks of brightly colored sticky notes. “Express yourself,” he told passersby. The response was electric. Calling himself “Levee”—one who supports the city’s emotional tide—Chavez turned an underground maze into a communal art space known as Subway Therapy.
News and social media feeds around the world filled with images of this ever-changing, ever-growing wall of remembrances, messages of love, and fierce calls to action. And its spirit was catching. Thousands picked up the mantle to create Subway Therapy walls in cities across the country—San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C.—and internationally as well.
Signs of Hope is Chavez’s tribute to Subway Therapy, including the story of how the project began and what, beyond his wildest dreams, it became. It’s an inspiring collection of his favorite images and of course, the 3-x-3-inch notes that most captured his heart. Individually these brave and funny and emotional “posts” bring the personal and momentary into the open. Together, they show us a vision of inclusivity and hope.
Matthew "Levee" Chavez is the creator of Subway Therapy, an ongoing immersive project in the subway stations of New York City that has been awarded the Municipal Art Society's 2017 Brendan Gill Prize. A believer in the therapeutic power of communication, he has worked in the field of education in a variety of different roles, including at a magnet school for students with autism. He lives in Brooklyn