Train Spotting: Mags Harries at the Porter Square Station

speaker_harries

Porter Square Station contains the MBTA’s deepest escalator descent, and that’s very cool, but an installation by public art specialist and SMFA prof Mags Harries arguably outshines the mighty electronic staircase. The 54 bronze gloves comprising ‘Glove Cycle’ have been most prominently seen tumbling – albeit in a stationary, statue-like way – down the escalator’s divide since 1984. Skyping from Venice (we’re using “at the Porter Square Station” loosely in this edition of Train Spotting), Harries explained why she’s been raising funds to relocate the piece’s bookend — a pile of gloves that appear to have been gathered up with a broom. She also told us that ‘Glove Cycle’ was never intended to be a metaphor for The Holocaust, as some mistakenly guessed in the ‘80s, but a “whimsical” take on life’s journey from birth to the great beyond.

MagsHarries_GloveCycle_3

Why are you trying to move the glove pile?

There used to be one elevator going down to the platforms. They’ve put in another one, so the main piece (the pile) is sandwiched between two elevators. That’s not the way it was originally conceived. It really just becomes a giant pissing place. The MBTA won’t put money up for [the relocation] because it doesn’t have money, so I have to raise the money. I had one estimate of $30,000, which seems high. I’m sure I could get it lower than that.

How’d you go about putting ‘Glove Cycle’ together?

Well, maybe I should go to why I chose gloves in the first place. There was the Blizzard of ‘78, and I was at Harvard at that time. I saw a glove hanging on a pole, and that became the instigator for thinking about the glove as an element in a narrative. It could move. It could change shapes. It could be fun to work with. At that time, I was also collecting all these gloves that had been lost during the snowstorm. They were all incredibly flattened and squashed. When I put them up on the wall, I realized they could, in fact, be almost like an animation. So I collected gloves, people gave me gloves, and I cast them into plaster and then into wax. The whole process was done with lost-wax casting.

It’s crazy that those gloves have been at Porter for as long as this reporter has been alive…

At that time, it was radical. There was a reaction to it in terms of thinking that, you know, it would be a danger to people who could get distracted and get sleeves caught, or not look where they’re going.

Do you know of any gloves-related injuries?

Actually, NPR did a story about how the way to go down escalators is either with one eye open and the other eye closed, or looking sidewards, because escalators can make people dizzy. Having people look sidewards at the gloves was, in fact, a safer way to go down the escalator. By having these gloves roll into each other and get caught on the anti-slide knobs, I sort of dissipated people’s fears with humor.

Have an idea for someone our reporter should talk to for an upcoming edition of Train Spotting MBTA Personality Spotlight? Email us your tip at letters@metro.us! 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.