German Native Brings Outsider Touch to Subway

Helle Andersen, a grad journalism student at the New School, interviews artist Lothar Osterburg, whose piece on zeppelins hovering in Grand Central Terminal is on display in subway cars as part of the Art Card program started by the MTA’s Arts for Transit.

In an audio podcast for Feet in 2 Worlds, host Aswini Anburajan talks to the reporter about Osterburg’s background and work, with clips of his interview with Andersen interspersed.

(Photo via

Lothar Osterburg working in his studio. (Photo by Helle Andersen via Feet in 2 Worlds)

A native of Germany, Osterburg first settled in San Francisco in 1987 before coming to New York six years later.

For Osterburg, it is the “American dream” or “New York dream” to come in as an outsider and be a part of it, be accepted. “I love how open the United States, and especially New York, is to something new,” he said.

Osterburg’s experience as an immigrant has influenced him to look at New York from an outsider’s perspective, whether from the eyes of an immigrant or a time traveler from the future. His desire? To open the eyes of New Yorkers to their own city.

As for his German roots:

“I feel more German than I did in the past. In the past, I tried to assimilate more and be less German and less American. Today, I feel a lot more comfortable being German.”

Visit Feet in 2 Worlds to listen to Osterburg elaborate on being an artist as a non-native New Yorker.

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