Will You Find the Hidden Message?

How a new parking lot mural and other airport art helps reduce travel stress

By Sue Cardillo

Published December 3, 2018

Read Time: 3 mins


It’s a work of art, a pathway finder … and a mystery.

Same, Same but Different, a mural by Detroit artist Ann Lewis, is currently being installed near the long-term parking lot. Made of runway-grade thermoplastic, the work will be nearly 500 feet long when complete — and will serve an important purpose.

“The idea was to create a pedestrian way-finding mural with subconscious visual cues that lets you know this is a safe space for people to be in,” said Rachel Saul Rearick, arts and culture manager at PIT. “It doesn’t necessarily have any signage that reads, ‘Hey, go here.’ But it does have a message hidden within the design. We aren’t releasing the message just yet, but rather asking travelers and passengers to see if they can find it on their own.”

The way-finding mural is but one example of art at PIT. Visitors and travelers at the airport also can see work from local and regional artists in the various display cases located on the Transit and Ticketing levels in the Landside terminal and in Concourse C in the Airside terminal as part of the Art in the Airport program. Art in the display cases changes each quarter.

“The intention of art at the airport is to enjoy it. It can be a stressful experience to come to the airport as a traveler,” Saul Rearick said. “The art displays provide that opportunity to sit down for a minute to be calm, collected and present in the moment instead of worrying that you have 45 minutes to get to your gate. Art lets you just enjoy the 45 minutes.”

New artwork has been installed Landside and Airside highlighting local artists and organizations; artist has been selected to design and install extended term parking lot way-finding mural by early fall.

Art at the airport is varied, from local and regional artists to those with national and international acclaim. One of the most important pieces is “Pittsburgh,” a mobile by internationally renowned sculptor Alexander Calder. When not traveling for display in other locations, it hangs magnificently in the rotunda of the Airside terminal and is often the subject of art tours.

The airport’s public art program also includes music. On Thursdays and Fridays at lunch time, travelers and visitors are treated to performances by local professional musicians as part of the airport’s Performing Arts Series. Performances take place on a stage in the Airside Corridor.

“Public art is really beautiful in the sense that it’s accessible to everybody. There’s no pretentiousness about it,” Saul Rearick said. “It’s here for everyone to enjoy, to engage with — to learn about.

“We have a really vibrant, creative arts community,” she added. “When I think about art at the airport, I think about the airport being the gateway to any city. Art at PIT provides the opportunity to really see what our city is about and to let people traveling get a glimpse of what is coming out of the Pittsburgh art scene.”

Click here for more photos of the way-finding mural.

Art in the Airport

The following artists will be featured for the quarter beginning December 2018 and represent a wide range of mediums:

Ticketing: Kirsten Ervin, installs on Dec. 6: She interviewed passengers and drew portraits of them

Transit: Turners Anonymous, installs on Dec. 4: Wood turning exhibition

Concourse C: Randi Stewart and Jamie Miller installs on Dec. 5: Collaborative textile artwork

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