Airport Art Program Engages, Inspires and Connects Us All

Art is culture and culture connects communities.

Art in the Airport connects millions of people beyond catching a flight.

Some of the colorful and unique art displays at Charlotte Douglas International Airport are tightly knit connections of personal stories, nostalgia and community engagement efforts that tell the visual story of Charlotte’s past, present and future.

Those connections to the people, homes and the history of Charlotte create a place where culture is for all.

Ben Premeaux firmly believes we are all connected in ways we don’t think about. He searched throughout the city to find the right mix of people to create his appropriately named piece, “Connections CLT.” Displayed at Gate A1, Premeaux, with camera in tow, literally stepped inside the homes of community residents with an eye toward empathy, sharing, and connection.

“Artists are important to the community; we have a unique voice and perspective and solve problems in different ways. People need to see that.”

One gate down from Premeaux’s digital piece rests “Playful Race of Life Patterns,” and “Textual of Time in Flight.” Artist Jonathan Grauel endeavored to capture the joy of travel while weaving Charlotte’s textile history with the thrill of NASCAR heritage.

“Art gives the Airport this credibility of ‘we are part of the community.’ Grauel said. “I felt like, ‘oh wow I can bring in this heritage of textiles with the excitement and heritage of NASCAR’ and tie that into the Airport. Originally there was a racetrack near the Airport (Charlotte Speedway on Little Rock Road), and I wanted to bring that together in my work.”

Nellie Ashford is a Charlotte native and folk artist who sought out to connect the past to the present. Inspired by growing up in what was once a rural city, her works are expressions of Charlotte that is forgotten and seldom recognized.

Ashford’s dual pieces, “Walk Together Children” and “Honoring All Teachers” are displayed at Gates A6 and A7.

“Walk Together Children” depicts children of all ethnicities coming together in a lush rural setting by a stream. The shotgun-style houses are depicted in the foreground and the Charlotte cityscape is in the distance contrasting the Queen City’s past and present.

“I feel so honored to be a part of this (Airport) and to represent women of Charlotte of all races and being a part of people’s hearts as they come and go from their destination,” Ashford said.

Destination is one of the key themes of Danielle Roney’s piece, “Meridian,” which is suspended on the west end Ticketing level of the recently opened Terminal Lobby Expansion.

Roney reached out to Charlotte residents online to ask for their personal travel histories. She collected the information – city of birth, favorite places to travel, dream destinations and what brought them to Charlotte – and used the geospatial data to map it as a globe. The result: a depiction of spiraling movement that contains 569 spheres and 467 LED lights.

“All of those unique stories and trajectories are what fluctuate and circulate throughout the sculpture,” Roney explained. “We are articulating this cycle of departure and arrivals and how as a spiral, we never come back the same. And the place we come back to is never the same.”

Connections Don’t Just Happen at the Terminal. The real connections come in the community, where art comes to life.