Clockwise from top left: Aliza Nisenbaum, Mariam Ghani, Rashid Johnson, Fred Wilson, Virginia Overton, Ronny Quevedo (photographs by Benedict Johnson Photography, Tommy Lau, Kendall Mills, courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery, Virginia Overton Studio, Argenis Apolinario)

Six New York-based artists have been commissioned to create permanent large-scale installations at LaGuardia Airport as part of Delta Air Lines’ $4 billion effort to revamp Terminal C, a project two years ahead of schedule now projected to wrap up this spring.

Artists Mariam Ghani, Rashid Johnson, Aliza Nisenbaum, Virginia Overton, Ronny Quevedo, and Fred Wilson have been selected to create works that will fill open areas such as a multi-floor entry space and baggage claim. Two large hanging sculptures will be installed in the atrium of Terminal C and will be viewable from outside through the glass exterior of the building. The initiative was developed as part of a unique partnership between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Delta Air Lines, NY Governor Kathy Hochul, and the Queens Museum.

Ghani will design a tiled wall that alludes to the over 80 languages that are spoken in the tristate area. Johnson will place the newest installment of his “Anxious Men” drawings at LaGuardia. The artist showed the first set of works in that series, composed of abstract faces carved from black soap on white ceramic tile, at the Drawing Center in 2015. He will create his largest grid of faces yet at the new terminal.

Nisenbaum, a painter known for her lush representations of groups of people in the settings in which they work, live, play, and mourn, will paint a group portrait of Delta employees which will be reproduced as a mosaic. Overton will design skylights, Wilson will create starlight globes for the airport’s ceiling, and Quevedo will adorn a wall with colorful and geometric lines inspired by gymnasium floors.

The redevelopment of Terminal C represents the last major piece of the multi-year refurbishment of LaGuardia, an $8 billion project undertaken to refresh the airport’s musty reputation. Long disdained by travelers for its dirtiness, poor lighting, and claustrophobically low ceilings, the renovation project promises a more pleasant travel experience that will soon be enhanced by locally-rooted public art. A total of $12 million has been set aside for the art commissions.

“We are thrilled to be working with Delta Air Lines to commission new permanent artworks by world leading artists who live and work in New York City, the most exciting cultural destination in the world,” Queens Museum President Sally Tallant said in a statement. “It is fitting that we welcome everyone, visitors and residents alike, with a new terminal presenting art that speaks to the city’s spirit and creativity.”

The new works will join a Works Progress Administration (WPA) mural from 1942 by James Brooks in the Marine Air Terminal and four contemporary installations added to Terminal B in 2020, among others.

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Jasmine Liu

Jasmine Liu is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she studied anthropology and mathematics at Stanford University. Find her on 

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