Queens Artists Perfect Their Craft at LaGuardia

By Abigail Goldring, Media Relations Staff

Art has always been an important part of LaGuardia’s historic Marine Air Terminal, also known as Terminal A. In the 1930’s, the largest mural commissioned by the Works Progress Administration was painted in the rotunda, where it can still be seen to this day.

Now, a portion of the terminal serves as studio space for a team of creative local artists who are continuing the legacy by participating in ArtPort Residency. The program is in its second year through a partnership between the Port Authority and the Queens Council on the Arts.

Five local Queens residents were recently chosen from a pool of more than 90 applicants to set up shop in their own 110-square-foot terminal space. Through March 2020, they will create a variety of projects representing the borough’s diversity through interaction with the thousands of passengers and employees who walk through the terminal each day.


ArtPort 2019 residents, L-R: Linda Ganjian, Holger Keifel, Davi Leventhal, Natsuki Takauji and Haksul Lee

First up is Holger Keifel, who is transforming his space into a photo studio. He plans to work on a photo book that features portraits of and interviews with passengers.

Davi Leventhal, the second scheduled artist, will fill the area with fuxicos, a traditional Brazilian decoration created from fabric scraps. His aim is to invite visitors in so they can learn the technique and engage in thoughtful conversation.

The third artist, Linda Ganjian, plans to design and print original postcards featuring Queens landmarks, including those at LaGuardia Airport. She will cover her studio space with her designs, welcoming in travelers and encouraging them to take the postcards as souvenirs.

The duo of Haksul Lee and Natsuki Takauji will occupy the space last. They plan on creating airplane sculptures that consist of visitors’ signatures in their own languages and transcriptions of the signatures in order to portray the diversity of travelers and New York City residents.

Last year’s cohort also presented a variety of innovative projects.

At a recent event kicking off the new group of residents, Brian Soliwoda invited members of the community to plant seeds from the biodegradable ship he built, aptly named the Clipper after the historic seaplane that flew from the terminal. The seeds were inspired by memories passengers shared around plants and gardens, and they were sealed between seed paper in the sails of the ship.


Soliwoda and LaGuardia General Manager Lysa Scully cutting the first seeds from the seed paper sails

Sherwin Banfield drew sketches of visitors walking by him, which he later turned into a bas-relief model (a type of sculpture). The model, titled “Passenger Relief,” is now hanging near the entrance to the terminal.


Above, Banfield sketching. Below, the finished product.

Gideon Jacobs and Lexie Smith created “Landing Pages,” a collection of stories they wrote while travelers were in flight. Passengers stopped by before their planes took off, and when they landed, they received the story Jacobs and Smith had written via email, text or the website the pair designed.

Finally, Sandra Lopez-Monsalve curated interviews with passengers, ambient noises around the airport, and stories about various parts of the facility for her project, “Sounds of LaGuardia.”

“I love that I was able to do this work in an airport, where people have travel on their minds, and they’re willing to share their stories,” Soliwoda said. “Having a studio in this space was a dream come true.”

Of the current group of residents, Keifel will be working on his masterpiece in the Marine Air Terminal until the end of June, followed by Leventhal, who will take residence in the rotunda until September. Next comes Ganjian, who will work until December 2019. Finally, Lee and Takauji will build their sculptures from January through March 2020.


Sandra Lopez-Monsalve interviewing a traveler

LaGuardia General Manager Lysa Scully said she’s been privileged to watch the ArtPort Residency unfold over its first year. “This program connects our customers with the vibrancy of the Queens arts community, and it will help us continue to transform LaGuardia Airport,” she said.

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