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WATCH: 'Keep Calm' Art Piece Goes Up on Sunnyside Billboard

Art Goes Up on Sunnyside Billboard
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Margeaux Walter

SUNNYSIDE — A billboard on Greenpoint Avenue got a new message this week, as the latest installment in a project that turns the city's empty ad spaces into public art.

The billboard, which looms above the avenue at 46th Street, was made over Tuesday with a piece by artist Margeaux Walter, featuring a collage of posters with different variations of the well-known phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On."

The work is the seventh to be erected around the city by 14x48, which offers artists vacant billboards to use as canvases. The space in this case was donated by the company that owns the billboard.

"I was really excited because I think it's a great concept," said Walter, 32, of Brooklyn. "I feel like people kind of ignore billboards...hopefully it'll make you take a second look."

Her work features posters she made and wheat-pasted into a collage, each of them featuring a different version of "Keep Calm and Carry On," a phrase originally intended to bolster the public in Britain during World War II.

"It was developed during World War II as war propaganda," Walter said, adding that it was never actually used during that era. It more recently became a popular advertising meme, with people and companies swapping out the last two words with different phrases.

Walter's work features posters with versions of the slogan, including "Keep Calm and Play Basketball," or "Keep Calm and Kiss On," which are plastered over the image of a person.

It's intended to look at "the various guises of advertising and propaganda," according a press release.

"I'm just interested in how those mediums overlap, and how much advertising sort of curates what we say and do as individuals," Walter said.

The piece will be on display for at least four weeks, during which the artist is asking people to tweet their own variations of the "Keep Calm" slogan using the hashtag #keepcalm14x48.

She'll turn the Twitter submissions into postcards that will be available at Ave Coffee House across the street from the billboard.

"It's like turning this advertising slogan into this more personalized form of communication," she explained.