Flying High

LaGuardia Airport will host first-ever artist residencies in historic rotunda

Art East News
LaGuardia Airport will host first-ever artist residencies to take place in public rotunda. The Marine Air Terminal's two-story rotunda. (Viferr81/Wikipedia)
LaGuardia Airport will host first-ever artist residencies to take place in public rotunda. The Marine Air Terminal's two-story rotunda. (Viferr81/Wikipedia)

New York’s LaGuardia Airport (long the butt of snarky comments) will soon be getting a bit more hospitable. Announced earlier this month by the Queens Council on the Arts (QCA), the QCA ArtPort Residency will give four artists 3-month residencies at the airport’s Marine Air Terminal (A), with the first starting in mid-April.

The opportunity is open to any Queens-based visual artist who can commit to the 3-month period. The lucky artists will be given a $3,000 stipend and access to 110 square feet of public studio space in the terminal’s rotunda, in what was formerly a Hudson News stand. The residency will take place entirely within view of the public, in a highly-trafficked area that receives thousands of visitors a day.

Of course, any artist seeking to win a residency will need to abide by the rules set by the New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which funds the QCA, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The list of prohibited materials is long and excludes anything toxic, and certain themes have been precluded; works can’t be too obscene or political. The space will serve as a gateway to cultural life in Queens, much as the airport welcomes visitors to the city.

“Queens is often overlooked for many reasons, and being that almost everybody who comes into the city comes through Queens, we want them to experience a flavor of Queens,” QCA’s Grants & Resource Director Lynn Lobell told Hyperallergic. “As an arts council, we also wanted the general public to be able to experience art in unexpected places and to see how the artist process works.”

Detail from Flight by James Brooks, which draws on aerial motifs and completely wraps the rotunda’s interior. (Timothy Vogel/Flickr)

The residency program within Terminal A will take place under Flight by James Brooks, a large, wraparound mural created as part of the Works Progress Administration program. The landmarked Marine Air Terminal itself, a squat, art deco building defined by its two-story rotunda, has taken on higher traffic than normal as construction continues around the airport. If the residency proves successful, QCA will look into expanding the program to LaGuardia’s Terminal B, once it’s completed in 2021.

Interested artists have until Tuesday, April 5 to apply.

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