Tarzan and Tarzana

Sandow Birk, "Tarzan and Tarzana" (ephemera for study)
Sandow Birk, "Tarzan and Tarzana" (station view)

Sandow Birk, “Tarzan and Tarzana” (station view)

Project Description

Sandow Birk designed terrazzo paving areas and porcelain enamel steel panels for station platforms. Artwork designs relate to the town of Tarzana as named after Edgar Rice Burroughs’ most famous creation and hero of more than twenty of his novels, Tarzan of the Apes. Sandow Birk selected the zebra skin and the giraffe skin as patterns, readily recognizable and identifiable with Africa, and reproduced the entire 28 chapter, 172 page text of the book Tarzan of the Apes. The text has been printed in two portions, one for each platform, so that over the course of repeated visits passengers can read the book in its entirety.

Artist Statement

“I would like viewers to actually be able to read the text of the book that the town was named after, and to have a longer, deeper relationship with the project and therefore with the town, the place, and with the history of the city.”

About the Artist

SANDOW BIRK (b. 1962, Detroit, Michigan) is best known for examining contemporary social issues—from inner-city violence, prisons, terrorism and wars—in expansive multimedia projects. Raised in Southern California, Birk earned a bachelor’s degree from the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design. His work is in the permanent collections of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Portland Art Museum and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to name a few. Among his numerous commendations are grants from the Fulbright Program, the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Los Angeles’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Smithsonian Institute, and residencies from the Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Cité Internationale des Arts, Montalvo Arts Center and Tamarind Institute, among others. Birk’s other public artworks can be seen throughout California in Avalon, Long Beach, Los Angeles and San Francisco.