La Guardia’s new Delta terminal will be defined by New York artists
Delta Air Lines’ rebuilt Terminal C, set to open this spring as one of the last big features of La Guardia Airport’s $8 billion transformation, will be defined by six new permanent works of art large-scale and site-specific.
“We want public art to be an important part of the appeal, inspiration and sense of place for a major new municipal facility,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York. and New Jersey, owner of the airport.
The Port Authority, together with Governor Kathy Hochul and Delta Air Lines, has partnered with the Queens Museum to commission Mariam Ghani, Rachid Johnson, Aliza Nisenbaum, Virginia Overton, Ronny Quevedo and Fred Wilson — all New York-based artists — to create installations in the arrivals and departures hall and associated lobby. The overall budget for the Terminal C arts program is $12 million.
“Delta really wanted us to think about Queens, the most diverse county in the United States, and find a way to reflect that,” said Sally Talant, the president of the Queens Museum, a close neighbor of the airport. The Tallant team guided the selection of six artists, chosen from an initial pool of several dozen.
Two monumental sculptures will hang in the terminal’s atrium and will be visible from the roadside, including an installation of star globes by Wilson, a Bronx-born MacArthur Prize winner, and a constellation of architectural skylights by Overton, a New York transplant from Tennessee. Ghani, a Brooklyn-born Afghan-American, references more than 80 languages spoken in the tri-state area in her tiled mural installation, and Nisenbaum, a Mexican-American, paints a variety of Delta employees in a portrait of a group, to be translated into a mosaic. . Johnson, a Chicago native, also works the mosaic, making the largest grid of faces in his “Anxious Men” series to date. Ecuador-born Quevedo reconfigures and transposes a gymnasium floor and its vibrant game lines onto a wall.
Terminal C art joins a growing gallery of public works in La Guardia, including the 1942 mural “Flight” by artist Works Progress Administration James Brooks in the Marine Air Terminal, and, unveiled in the new Terminal B in 2020, four installations by Jeppe Hein, Sabine Hornig, Laura Owens and Sarah Sze. Later this year, Richard Lippold’s “Orpheus and Apollo” sculpture, which hung for more than 50 years at Lincoln Center, will be moved to La Guardia’s Central Hall, currently under construction.
“It’s going to be very exciting at LaGuardia to have some sort of artistic destination,” Tallant said. “It evokes the idea of building a contemporary public space that celebrates the culture and artists that make the city what it is.”