Arts and Entertainment

Art professor contributes artwork for Japanese high-speed train

Brian Alfred, assistant professor of art, created animations for a new high-speed train in Japan. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Brian Alfred, Penn State assistant professor of art, has made animation works for the East Japan Railway Company (JR East), which is introducing a special Shinkansen, or high-speed railway, service this spring on the Joetsu Line that runs between Niigata Station on the coast and inland Echigo-Yuzawa Station.

The carriages of the new bullet train will be fully dedicated to art appreciation, with one side of the train featuring a gallery of contemporary art. Called the “Genbi Shinkansen,” the name “Genbi” means “contemporary beauty.” The service has already been dubbed “the world’s fastest art experience.”

Alfred is one of seven artists asked to contribute and the only non-Japanese artist.

“It was an amazing experience spending a month in Japan researching this project,” said Alfred. “I really value the dialogue my art creates when making work and sharing it in the public realm. It’s especially exciting to have this project in Japan.”

The Genbi Shinkansen is scheduled to debut on April 29, with services mainly on weekends and holidays. With the world-famous Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale festival held every three years in Niigata’s Tokamachi city, the introduction of this new train furthers Niigata’s reputation as a leading center of contemporary art creation. For more information on the Genbi Shinkansen, visit

In May, Alfred will have a solo exhibition at Ameringer/McEnery/Yohe Gallery featuring works he made as a result of spending a month in Japan researching the Genbi project. He will also have a book accompanying the exhibition, to be published by Yundler Brondino Verlag. The book was supported in part by a faculty research grant from the College of Arts and Architecture. 

Last Updated July 29, 2017