High-flying exposure
December 4, 2012

Airports are emotional places—places of reunions and separations; of anticipation and anxiety; of adventure and business. And, with thousands of people coming through each day, ideal places to interact with art. 

That was Steve Higgins’ thinking when he approached the folks at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport about a proposal to use the airport as a showcase for student art—sculpture specifically. Would the airport be interested?

“Saying ‘yes’ was as easy as falling off a log,” says Peter Spurway, vice president of corporate communication and airport experience at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, with a laugh. “We’re excited to provide this exposure for the students and the school … we’re very interested in promoting Halifax as being artist friendly.”

With the green light from the airport, the 12 students in the class, Advanced Sculpture Workshop, have been working on their projects since the beginning of the term. They took a tour of the terminal building and explored places they thought their artworks could be situated. They developed ideas and wrote proposals. Then, they invited Mr. Spurway and his colleague Sherrie Clow to class as they presented their proposals and solicited feedback.

Next week, on Monday, Dec. 10, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the class will have its official opening at the airport. The works are expected to be on display until next fall.

“I’ve been so impressed with the professionalism of the students—they just dug in and went for it,” says Steve Higgins, who team-teaches the class with Kim Morgan. “Even through some disappointments, they just shook it off and went right back to work. That says wonders about the quality of the students in this class.”

It’s a sculpture class, but not all of the works are sculptural. There are text-based works (An exhortation to “Be Confident” as people enter through the terminal’s revolving doors), multimedia works (A video projection of an elevator that opens its doors as people step onto a sensor-triggering mat) and installations (A kaleidoscope trained on passengers just as they make it through security) —all designed to make airport-goers stop and think before they catch that flight or return home after being away.

“I confess I had a rather narrow idea of what we could expect,” says Mr. Spurway. “(The students) really opened up our minds. None of (the artworks) are what I’d call obvious but they draw the viewer in and are very different from what they may expect to encounter an airport … I tell you, I’m looking forward to some of those comment cards.”

Participating students are: DJ Andresen, Alani Caruso-Fetterer, Thomas Dahlgren, Spencer Davenportted, Lu Zheng, Barbara Scheed, Matt Godfrey, Aaron Sinclair, Danielle Rice, José Mora, Tess Griebel and Angela Glanzmann.

“There’s so much to take into consideration,” says José Mora, whose elevator installation promises to be both welcoming and frustrating—not to mention amusing. “We’re reaching out to a large and diverse audience, so we’ve been thinking about what we want to convey. And then there are the practical considerations—how do we make our pieces work so they can stand up to 10 months of interaction?”

NSCAD’s Advanced Sculpture Class is grateful for support from the RBC Emerging Artists Project and the Reznick Family Fund for Student Creativity.

 cloud-350 NSCAD student Danielle Rice creates imprints of faces in viscous fibres and cellulose paste for an artwork, that once finished and installed, will float like a cloud in the centre of a two-storey mezzanine.