Arts program at Philadelphia Int’l Airport turns 20

Christine Larson’s Farewell to Night

The arts and exhibitions program at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and, after 425 temporary exhibits and artist demonstrations, one of the first airport arts programs is still going strong.

Over the years, the exhibits have featured a variety of media including painting, photography, printmaking, wood working, ceramics, glass, and found objects such as a 20-foot clock made of hundreds of empty Yuengling beer bottles

Beer Bottle Clock

The current exhibit in Terminal A-East features a montage of Philadelphia’s 67 Historic Landmarks, recognizing the city’s designation as the nation’s first World Heritage City by the International Organization of World Heritage Cities.

Other exhibits in the terminals today include Christine Larsen’s Farewell to Night, a 100-footlong illustration of an imagined landscape where mystical characters celebrate the coming of morning  and Custom Bikes, which showcases hand-made bicycles from 5 different local bike shops.

 

The Exhibitions Program was founded by PHL Director of Image and Chief Curator Leah Douglas, who was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about the program via email:

What have been some of the challenges and successes of the art program during these 20 years?

“Twenty years ago there were few airport art programs to emulate so it takes time to model a program that works best for your airport, city, and region. Now passengers and employees are familiar with rotating art programs in airports and it something that they look forward to seeing.  The program has evolved into one of the area’s prized locations to exhibit because of the quality of our presentations and the quality and variety of the work that we show–in addition to the massive exposure with 82,000 passengers flying through PHL every day.”

What are some the most memorable exhibitions for you to put together?

“It’s always the next exhibition that I am looking forward to most and in particular, it is one that I am curating for this anniversary–It’s A Wrap: 20 for 20. This exhibition has to be the first-ever for an airport:  Twenty artists are invited to create interventions on existing architectural elements and furnishings. Several artists will crochet over top columns and rockers; 6 artists have been given ceiling tiles to paint on; 1 artist will apply colored tape in patterns along the glass of the moving walkway; and another artist will paint directly on 2 cement columns.”

Find more information about past, present and future exhibitions at Philadelphia International Airport here.

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