Nick Kuszyk

"Queen Andrea"

The once drab and dull 900-foot long tunnel connecting Broadway and St. Nicholas Avenue at the 191st Street subway station is now a wondrous canvas featuring bright and bold graffiti and fine art.  While visiting it last week, we had the opportunity to speak to Jessie and Katey, the Baltimore-based duo, who — along with NYC-based artists, Queen Andrea, RRobots, Cekis and Cope2 — were selected to paint murals along the tunnel.


We love the way you are beautifying this Upper Manhattan tunnel. How did you two first meet? And how did you two — Baltimore-based artists —  become involved in this NYC project?

We met when we were both students at MICA: Maryland Institute College of Art. And about four years ago, we started painting together. We’ve both lived in New York, and when we heard about the Department of Transportation‘s open call for artists who specialize in painting large scale murals, we applied.

Jessie-katey-abstract art-DOT


What aspect of the project most appealed to you?

We loved the idea of returning to NYC to paint such a huge, awesome space.



What was it like working with the other muralists on this project? 

It was great, and getting to know them all was wonderful.



What about the Department of Transportation? What was it like working for the DOT?

It was the bomb! They even supported us with potties!



Were there any particular challenges?

At one point the walls cried, and we had to repaint some spots. But — overall — the entire experience was awesome.

 Photos of images:

1. Queen Andrea, Lois Stavsky

2. Jessie and Katey, Lois Stavsky; 3. Dani Reyes Mozeson 4. City-As-School intern Diana Davidova 

5. Queen AndreaDani Reyes Mozeson

6. RRobots, Dani Reyes Mozeson

7. & 8. CekisDani Reyes Mozeson

9. Cope2, Tara Murray; 10. Dani Reyes Mozeson


Nick Kuszyk‘s impeccably-crafted robots are among NYC’s most seductive images.  With their bold colors and expressive movements, they brilliantly enhance our urban landscape.  I had the opportunity to speak to their creator, R. Nicholas Kuszyk aka RRobots, shortly before he left for his one-month residency in Jaffa, a seaport town on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.


When and where did you first get up?

It was back in 1993 in the suburbs of DC.

Had you any preferred surface or spot back then?

I hit whatever walls and trains I could.

Who or what inspired you at the time?

Cycle and Cool Disco Dan were among my main inspirations.


Do any early memories stand out?

My friend’s older brother had a black book and a copy of Videograf.  It seemed monumental. I was 12 years old when I discovered another reality.

How did your family feel about what you were doing?

My parents didn’t know what I was doing. But my family has always been supportive of my art. My mom is an interior decorator and my sister does cool drawings.

Were you ever arrested?

No. I never got caught.


Most of us here identify you with your signature robot. Can you tell us something about it? When was it born?

It was born in 2000, and my first legal robot wall surfaced in 2002 in Richmond.  Since then, it has traveled to over a dozen cities in the US and abroad to Berlin, London, Prague and now to Tel Aviv.

Why a robot? What does this robot represent?

I like its simplicity, its universality. It’s up to you to decide what it represents.

How do you feel about the movement of street art and graffiti into galleries?

It’s fine.


Is there anyone with whom would you like to collaborate?


Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetics?

The skateboarding culture and graffiti.

Do you work with a sketch in hand or do you just let it flow?

I always have a general idea of what I will be painting. But I don’t prepare sketches.

Are you generally satisfied with your work?

It depends.


Do you have a formal arts education? Was it worthwhile?

Yes.  I studied art at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. It was definitely worthwhile, as it widened my perspective.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

It has become more geometric, and the robots are becoming less central to my pieces and more integrated into them.

How do you see the role of the artist in society?

The artist is here to educate and to entertain. And the street artist has a distinct role – to increase property values.

Note: Nick’s exhibit, consisting of artwork created during his one-month residency, opens tomorrow, Thursday, June 5 at SAGA, a new space for art in Jaffa.

This interview was conducted by Lois Stavsky; photo 1 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn by Lois Stavsky; photo 2, courtesy SAGA; photo 3 at Welling Court in Astoria, Queens by Tara Murray; and photo 4, courtesy SAGA