One option for the Piney Branch Road station.  Image by Erwin Timmers via Purple Line Transit Partners.

The Purple Line, slated to open in 2022, will be a light rail line that connects Montgomery and Prince George's Counties via a 16 mile track between Bethesda and New Carrollton. And while it's proving difficult to get shovels into the ground, there's at least one light-hearted side of the project to talk about right now: art in each of the stations.

Purple Line Transit Partners, the team working to build the new line, is running a program called Art-in-Transit to plan art installations at each of the Purple Line's 21 stations. A group of artists has been selected to submit proposals, and after the public weighs in on its favorites (and those it doesn't like), a panel will take feedback into consideration and give contracts to the winners.

The Purple Line's Montgomery County stations. Image by Purple Line Transit Partners.

Art in Transit is an opportunity for artists to incorporate aspects of the local communities into the functional design of each station, connecting it to the local area in a way that makes the station more pleasant for passengers. Parts of stations where art may go include walkways, fences, bridges, and tunnels.

On Monday, the Purple Line Transit partners unveiled the possibilities for Montgomery County; it will do the same for Prince George's stations on Thursday. You'll soon be able to see and comment on the art selections here, but for now, these are some of my favorite Montgomery County candidates:

Bethesda station, Ivan Depena

One concept for Bethesda station comes from Ivan Depena. He envisions a subterranean root system, made up of LED lights, that flows from the upper to the lower section of the station and changes color based on the arrival and departure of trains and traffic. The feature is built to be low maintenance, long-lasting, and even resistant to vandalism.

Here's what it will look like when built into the station.

Image by Ivan Depena via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Image by Ivan Depena via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Dale Drive station, Susan Zoccola

Another artist, Susan Zoccola, has a concept for the smaller Dale Drive station. Her design is inspired by the tree-filled park area around the Sligo Creek, with various species of trees represented in the station's glass panels.

Image by Susan Zoccola via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Water-themed artwork, a reference to the creek, would go on this walkway to and from the station:

Image by Susan Zoccola via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Silver Spring Transit Center station, Nobuho Nagasawa

Nagasawa takes inspiration from the oak trees all over our region region and the mica found in the springs, for which Spring Spring was named. There aren't as many trees as there once were and the spring has run dry, but Nagasawa wants to capture their memory by creating an oasis of oak trees and the spring with sparkling flecks of mica.

The the oak leaf and acorn pattern providing shade and aesthetic shadows:

Image by Nobuho Nagaswa via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Center station at day and night:

Image by Nobuho Nagasawa via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Image by Nobuho Nagasawa via Purple Line Transit Partners.

The Colesville Road bridge with a leaf pattern that provides a shade pattern during the day and seasonal color light in the evenings:

Image by Nobuho Nagasawa via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Manchester Place station, Peter Erskine

Erskine takes inspiration from one of nature's most colorful natural phenomenon, the rainbow, and will use light's prismatic beauty to represent the international community around Manchester Place and it's becoming “a major portal to the International Corridor.”

Image by Peter Erskine via Purple Line Transit Partners.

The light filtering through the station will change both throughout the day and from season to season, creating a dynamic rainbow of color:

Image by Peter Erskine via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Image by Peter Erskine via Purple Line Transit Partners.

Along the portal wall, an array of international flags will be inscribed with something unique from their respective cultures, also represented by the colors of the rainbow:

Image by Peter Erskine via Purple Line Transit Partners.

The unveiling for the Prince George's County stations will be at the College Park Community Center on Thursday, April 27, from 6:30-8:30 pm.

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Matthew Koehler is currently a stay at home dad who formerly worked as an ESL teacher in Nagano, Japan and Washington, DC. When not chasing his three-year-old daughter around, he chronicles he fathering experiences in blog form and is always on the look out for obscure beers. For the time being, he resides in the ever-changing Southwest neighborhood, just down the street from Nationals Ballpark.