01/28/2011 10:25 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Thomas McKean's MetroCard Mosaics (PHOTOS)

Artist Thomas McKean was riding the subway when he idly wondered how many words he could spell using the word 'Metrocard'. Then he fixated on variations of design using the actual card itself. After enough subway musing, he decided to collect discarded Metrocards and use them as his palette for grand mosaics.

I was entranced by the actual surface of the MetroCard - it actually has a beautiful glow, like enamel - and the slight variations in color from one card to another. I also like the challenges presented by using a limited palette, just the same way I admire the limitations imposed by writing a sonnet, yet the immense opportunites one can find within these limitations. (It took me a while to permit myself to use the back of the card - usually white - which of course gave me a lot more leeway.) And yes, the subway itself, does inspire me: perhaps it goes back to admiring George Tooker's subway paintings, but I've begun a series of drawings of different subway entrances, most of which have some unusual aspect in their lay-out as they had to be constructed to fit in odd spaces.

The result is an incredible project of repurposing and re-imagining the city's ephemeral junk.