My day job often takes me to new places — I’m a public transportation researcher and policy analyst — and I was in Biloxi, Mississippi, for conference about transit technology a couple of weeks ago. In between meetings I had a chance to check out the city’s fledgling arts district, and had two destinations on my agenda: the Saenger Theater and Gallery 782. They both turned out to be within walking distance of my hotel.
The Saenger Theater, I learned, was built in 1929 and has been in continuous use since then. The City of Biloxi now owns the theater and recently restored the facility. It sports an impressive Art Deco neon sign, which was the purpose of my visit (and the subject of this photo).
A few blocks away, I visited Gallery 782 which is a cooperative shop with paintings, photos, jewelry, and ceramics from local artists. There I discovered work from Mississippi artist Kathryn Taylor Gray, who recycles vintage items into distinctive jewelry and describes her inspirations as “all things aged, rusty, discarded, used, found, played with and loved.”
Because she’s a fellow Etsy seller, I had the opportunity to check out her online shop Nooboo Designs once I got back home. Turns out she loves incorporating subway tokens into earrings, cufflinks, bracelets, and necklaces and she has an impressive collection of tokens from well-known and obscure transit operators. So I asked if she would make me a necklace using an old MBTA token. She was happy to do it and quickly came up with a beautiful design. It shipped today and I can’t wait to see it.
So go figure: I had to go to Mississippi to turn a piece of Boston transit history into wearable art.