Why This Matters: Public art at the airport enhances the passenger experience and promotes Charlotte and the surrounding region.
Compiled by Bernie Petit
Traveling at the holidays can be stressful.
Fortunately, if you’re flying out of Charlotte this season, you can experience several public artworks that provide a momentary sense of calm, wonder and contemplation.
There are more than 20 artworks and exhibits in the Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s public art program, which enhances the passenger experience while promoting the City of Charlotte and the surrounding region. The artworks humanize what are intended to be functional spaces and help travelers orient themselves to their location.
If you’re traveling to or from the airport, here are some public artworks to check out.
- If you take Billy Graham Parkway, be on the lookout for “Ascendus,” a 60-foot tall celebration of flight made from stainless steel, laminated glass and aluminum. Designed by artist Ed Carpenter, it is the largest public artwork in Mecklenburg County.
- If you need to pass time before picking up a loved one from the airport, take a detour to check out “Old Growth” at the Wilson Air Center instead of circling the terminal road. You’ll be awed by the 40-foot tall, 20-ton sculpture made from weathering steel by Asheville artist Hoss Haley. Designed to evoke the presence of a majestic oak, the artwork explores our relationships with towering trees.
Parking the Car
- Due to construction of the new hourly deck and rental car return facility, you’ll find “Queen Charlotte,” by sculptor Raymond Kaskey, between the East and West Daily parking decks. It was the first artwork commissioned for the airport. Once planned renovations of the terminal are completed, “Queen Charlotte” will be returned to the terminal.
- Also at the daily parking decks is “Heritage 4 Charlotte,” a sculptural work by Andrea Myklebust that uses the metaphor of cloth – in which separate strands are woven together to become one strong fabric – to connect present-day Charlotte to the cultural traditions of the region’s native people.
In the Airport
- “First in Flight Mobile,” a kinetic sculpture by George Greenamyer that celebrates the history of aviation, is located in the airport atrium.
- “Postcards from North Carolina,” a series of six murals in cut aluminum by Béatrice Coron, can be seen from the escalators between ticketing and baggage claim. It displays the “must-see” of the state, including the Charlotte skyline, the mountains and seascape scenes.
- There’s also temporary public art courtesy the Carolina Clay Matters Pottery Guild. The guild rotates out an exhibition of local craftsmanship every six months at concourse E.