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Art in the Airport Continues with Work from Duo of Recent KCAD Grads

Posted October 9, 2014 in Public

Here in ArtPrize country, we’re accustomed to seeing art in unusual places. So when Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) joined forces with Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) earlier this year to fill the airport with a special ongoing exhibition of KCAD student and alumni work, it didn’t take long for the concept to have an impact.

“The response has just been awesome,” said Tom Post, KCAD graduate recruitment specialist and the exhibition’s curator. “Instead of rushing around and being preoccupied with wherever they’re going next, people are starting to have these wonderful moments where they just stop and appreciate this art and the spirit of creativity it represents. Our creativity is a big part of what makes West Michigan a special place, and I really think people enjoy being reminded of that in unexpected ways.”

The first phase of “Art in the Airport” treated the thousands of people who pass through the GFIA each day to stunning displays of work from 2014 MFA graduates Matt Gubancsik (Photography) and Laurie Hunt (Printmaking).

Huge prints of Gubancsik’s ethereal photographs of illusory, fabricated environments were installed in light boxes through the GFIA’s main parking structure, giving the typically mundane space a sense of arresting vibrancy. In the airport’s Grand Hall, where passengers rest up and grab a bite to eat while waiting for their flights, Hunt’s beautiful large-scale prints of Michigan’s Great Lakes evoked the artistry of our state’s natural splendor.

“The ultimate goal is organic engagement,” said Post. “It’s not about turning the airport into an art gallery; it’s about filling it with a sense of culture and identity that’s powerful – both for the viewers and for the students who get the opportunity to activate their creativity in this very interesting way.”

Now, the exhibition has switched focus to another duo of 2014 BFA grads - Erica Lang (Printmaking) and Nicky Sczesny (Illustration) – whose work is deeply rooted in an exploration of place and how it shapes human experience.

art from Erica Lang in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

(above and below) work from 2014 grad Erica Lang hangs in the GFIA's Grand Hall and in the concourse hallways

art from Erica Lang in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Lang’s bold black and white and color prints, now hanging in the GFIA’s Grand Hall and in the concourse hallways, reflect a sense of wonder and discovery, and a longing for a deeper connection with the natural world. In the context of an airport, they invite viewers to take a deep breath, slow down, and rise above the frenetic pace and technological discord of modern life. 

Throughout the main parking structure, Sczesny has installed a series of illustrations that capture the essence and identity of all of the different cities the GFIA offers direct flights to. The pieces celebrate the people, the attractions, the scenery, and the feeling of these cities, and how those elements converge together to create a sense of place.

art from Nicky Sczesny in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

(above and below) 2014 grad Nicky Sczesney's work is dipalyed in lightboxes throughout the GFIA's main parking stucture

art from Nicky Sczesny in the Gerald R. Ford International Airport

“These pieces are perfect for this forum,” said Post. “They exhibit impressive technique and skill, but remain accessible to a wide variety of viewers, especially people who have traveling on their mind. We’re really excited to see how people respond.”

As time goes by, the lineup of work will continue to rotate and evolve as KCAD and the GFIA explore the possibilities of this decidedly non-traditional exhibition, such as collaborative projects and site-specific installations.

More information can be found at kcad.edu/airport.