Los Angeles’ Amanda Gorman makes history as inaugural poet 

Los Angeles’ own Amanda Gorman made history at age 22 on Wednesday when she delivered her poem, “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Her deeply moving performance has been lauded by some of the nation’s most influential luminaries, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton. 

Gorman — the first National Youth Poet Laureate — also recently wrote an original poem, commissioned by Metro, that reflects on transit in Los Angeles. The poem will be included in a forthcoming Metro Art publication featuring works by several artists who are connected to the neighborhoods along the future Crenshaw/LAX light rail line.  

This is not the first time an artist commissioned by Metro has received national recognition in the early days of their career.  

•In 2017, Kehinde Wiley, a Metro Art Young Artists program alum, was selected by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to create the official portrait of former President Barack Obama. At the age of 17, Wiley was one of 14 young artists selected to participate in Metro’s Young Artists program and he created a large-scale mural that was reproduced and placed in 2,000 Metro buses. 

 •In 2013, while working on a commission titled “Artist Educators” on the E Line’s (Expo) Palms Station, artist Shizu Saldamando was honored as a member of the nation’s artistic elite at the White House Historical Association Arts Reception, hosted by then-First Lady Michelle Obama.  

 •Jazz artist and Los Angeles native Kamasi Washington — who in 2015 performed at Union Station as part of Metro Art Presents — has gone on to play at the world’s most prominent music festivals such as Coachella, Glastonbury and Bonnaroo. He was included in the prestigious 2017 Whitney Biennial, featured in a major NY Times profile in 2016 as a “jazz celebrity,” and even served as a guest on the Tavis Smiley Show.    

Metro works closely with arts professionals throughout Los Angeles County to find talent from emerging to established artists. Our goal is build and operate transit projects that are both aesthetically-pleasing and which build and enhance communities.  

“It is a significant honor to see many artists that we have worked with in the early stages of their careers receive well-deserved recognition, including some of our country’s highest accolades,” said Maya Emsden, Deputy Executive Officer, Arts & Design. “We believe art has the power to inspire, transform and bring people together in the public sphere.”  

With nearly 11,000 employees and an annual budget north of $6 billion, Metro runs the nation’s third-busiest transit system. Beyond Metro Art, many former associates and employees have enjoyed great success elsewhere.  

“Our role at LA Metro goes beyond running buses and trains — we’re trying to rebuild communities and provide housing, create beautiful public spaces and connect people to jobs and opportunities and all the things that make life worth living — such as the arts,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “And on Inauguration Day it was wonderful to see someone connected to Los Angeles County Metro encourage all Americans to help this country reach its full potential.”