Art

First Nations Welcome Figure lands at Vancouver Int’l Airport

‘The Story of Frog Woman and Raven,” by Dempsey Bob, courtesy Vancouver Airport Authority

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is well-known for its impressive art program featuring the work of many First Nations people.

Throughout and around the airport, passengers see art that draws on and invokes the themes of land, sea and sky. 

This week, the Vancouver Airport Authority righted a past cultural wrong in the airport art program by installing a new Musquem Indian Band welcome figure near the International Arrivals Area, in Chester Johnson Park.

The newly raised welcome figure, carved by ʔəy̓xʷatələq (Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow), is visible when you exit YVR’s International Terminal and is in a spot significant to Musqueam culture.

Courtesy Vancouver Airport Authority

Musqueam are the original stewards of Sea Island, which is the land where the airport is now located. And, per an agreement made between the airport and the Musqueam in 2017, the Indigenous artworks at the airport and on Sea Island are to be created by Musqueam, reflect their culture and tradition, or be approved by the Musqueam.

That’s why the airport also moved three traditional Gitxsan poles from the airport to a nearby park.

The poles were created in 1970 by Gitxsan hereditary chiefs and students, and have been on loan to YVR from the Museum of Vancouver since 1995. The poles at YVR predate the airport’s agreement with Musqueam and were moved because, while Indigenous artwork, they do not represent the Musqueam, whose land they were on.

Airport news from Miami and Albany Int’l Airports

Flying somewhere this week?

If you are, it’s a good bet you may find yourself stuck at the airport somewhere longer than you intended.

But we’re here to keep you up-to-date on some of the on-the-ground amenities that might keep you informed and entertained.

Miami Int’l Airport has a LEGO Store

Salt Lake City International Aiport (SLC) was the first US airport to have a LEGO store. one. And now Miami International Airport (MIA) has one too.

MIA’s 742-square-foot LEGO® store opened in May and is located near gate D14. Hours: daily from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Planting Utopia at Albany International Airport (ALB)

New York’s Albany International Airport (ALB) and its neighbor, the Shaker Heritage Society are jointly presenting work by artist Julia Whitney Barnes.

Barnes spent a year photographing and collecting specimens from over 150 plants growing in the Sharker Heritage Society’s herb garden, which is on the site of the first Shaker settlement in the United States.

The herb garden, and historic Shaker ‘gift’ or ‘spirit’ drawings, are the inspiration for the images and prints Barnes created during her year-long project going on view at Albany International Airport on July 16. There’s also a companion site-specific installation at the Shaker Heritage Society, which is a short walk from the airport.

At the Shaker Heritage Society’s 1856 Drying House, Barnes’ installation includes temporary murals on the exterior of the historic brick building. The images are stark blue and white silhouettes of herbs in bloom climbing the outside of the red brick walls. Inside, there are prints on fabric and hanging bunches of herbs from the garden. The murals and the installation will remain on view through summer 2023.

For the installation at Albany International Airport, Barnes made eight cyanotype paintings on paper with plants collected from the Shaker herb garden. (Cyanotype is an old photographic printing process that creates dark greenish-blue prints.)

These paintings are reproduced on aluminum panels that will be on view for three to five years in the pedestrian corridor linking the new south parking garage with the ticketing area.

On July 16, ALB Airport will also debut a six-month-long exhibition, called Planting Utopia, in the post-security Concourse A Gallery with artwork, preparatory sketches, and a documentary video about the collaboration.

(All images courtesy Albany International Airport)

Flag of military uniforms on display at San Antonio Int’l Airport

As we head into July 4, San Antonio International Airport (SAT) is unveiling a 25-foot by 12-foot American flag woven out of 100 military uniforms.

The uniforms were worn in conflicts dating back to World War I. Most uniforms are donated by employees of USAA, an insurance and banking organization serving military families headquartered in San Antonio. The company is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this month.

The artwork is made by Minnesota Veteran and artist Jeffrey Stenbom. He spent more than 1,000 hours weaving together uniforms from all five branches of service for this latest, and largest, piece in his “Freedom’s Threads” series.

“Those pieces of fabric are interlinked, just like those service members are interlinked to protecting our freedoms and keeping the freedoms that we have,” Stenbom said. “Those uniforms that they wore, they bled in, that they sweated in, they cried in, it’s hard, it’s real hard.”

The flag made of military uniforms will be on display at San Antonio International Airport for around 6 months, through January 2023, and then transferred to USAA headquarters for permanent display.

During its time at the airport, the flag “has the potential to be viewed by millions,” said Stenbom. “It feels only fitting that it be displayed at the airport of Military City USA. My hope is that many travelers are able to view it. Especially active duty military members, veterans, and their families.”

The video in this tweet shows Stenbom working on the piece.

Factoids about the new Freedom’s Thread Art Piece at SAT

  • The finished piece weighs nearly 100 pounds.
  • Pieces of more than 140 different uniforms were woven into this flag.
  • In addition to uniforms donated by USAA employees, Stembon used uniform pieces from his grandfathers and from one of his own uniforms. He bought some uniforms online to help represent a few missing time periods.
  • More than 65,000 feet (over one mile) of parachute cord was used to create the loom he worked on to weave the uniforms together.

“The uniform items veterans own often end up in a box or deep in our closets and are rarely seen,” said Taylor Clark, Assistant Vice President and Executive Sponsor USAA’s 100th Anniversary. “To know that we can contribute to something so meaningful…makes it really special.”

Look for this flag at San Antonio International Airport (SAT) presecurity in the Terminal B Lobby.

Art scavenger hunt at PHL Airport

This summer, passengers at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) have a fun way to spend their dwell time, engage with art, and maybe win a prize.

In PHL’s Art Puzzle Challenge guests seated at the airport’s large B-C food court will find tabletop decals with a scannable QR code. The code is also on B and C info counters and on 4 art exhibition locations.

The code first gives directions to puzzle 1, which is Kiki Aranita’s exhibition of re-created yarned snacks and sauces based on her Korean/Hawaiian heritage. 

In that first stop, players will be asked to find an object named after a Hawaiian island. (Hints are provided).

When that piece of the puzzle is completed, passengers are directed to the other three exhibitions and asked to locate an element of the art. When all 4 pieces of the puzzle are solved, passengers may submit their information online and receive a prize from PHL’s exhibition program: 6 artist-made pins that feature PHL and a selection of international destinations.



The art scavenger hunt kicks off Tuesday, May 31, and is designed by Eric Dale, who creates puzzle challenges for Philly street art. As the art exhibitions at PHL change, the puzzle challenge will be updated. (Photos courtesy PHL Airport).

Travel Tidbits from airports near you

Please tune in Tuesday to part 2 of my ‘appearance’ on the Dallas Love Field podcast, Love Field Stories. We’ll be chatting about the great art collection at the airport and learning the stories behind some of the pieces.

Airport traditions are back: Flowers on Mother’s Day

Since 2009 (except for a pandemic pause) Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) has been handling out carnations to moms traveling through the airport on Mother’s Day. We’re glad to see the tradition continued this year.

Discounts for Military at O’Hare

During May active, retired, and veteran members of the US Military will be eligible for discounts at both O’Hare and Midway Airports.