The Project: Create a piece of art for an airport parking garage that would be attractive and welcoming, speak to some of the purposes of the airport, and engage the traveler on their route from the parking garage to the terminal.
The Solution: A family on vacation is part of the American Dream and likely the most cherished purpose of the airport to patrons, so I choose this as the narrative theme for the sculpture. There are many configurations for American families, but for this project, I harkened back to the cliché and symbol of a 50’s TV show caucasian mom, dad, and two kids.
Even though the imagery and detail is what viewers respond to emotionally, it is the abstract design–the space between the figures, the shapes and angles the bodies and luggage make–that suggests motion, direction, and balance and ultimately determines the success of the sculpture.
Challenges: The sculpture has a lot of detail which is meaningful to the family that commissioned the piece (the owners of the garage). At the request of the client, I made a copy of his wife’s college ring, which is worn by the mom in the sculpture. The client asked if a newspaper could be worked into the design. I responded that it could be a detail worked into the luggage the man is carrying. I was shocked when the client showed up at my studio with a specific issue of the Providence Journal that he wanted me to sculpt so that the text and images would be legible. This paper’s feature story was the ascension to bishop of the client’s priest, a long-time family friend. It was a huge challenge, but I figured out ways to accommodate these requests without compromising the integrity of the design.
Recollections: When I thought of my personal history with Green airport, I remembered that in the 70‘s, when I was a child, the old terminal had an observation deck to view the planes. I remember how huge the jets looked to me as a small boy, and how hard it was to believe they could fly. On my first trip on an airplane, I was more excited by the experience of flying than by the destination. This is why I have the little boy in the sculpture playing with a model plane, to show that for young people flying is a magical experience.
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