The designers of Pittsburgh’s new, modern terminal hope that travelers will see it as a striking work of art.
But the new facility will also host an abundance of artwork, making it both a creation of Pittsburgh culture and a curator of that culture moving forward. For Rachel Rearick, arts and culture manager at Pittsburgh International Airport, that role is critical for the region’s burgeoning local arts community.
“We have a reputation as a growing technology hub, but we’re still making things,” she said. “Craft is having this renaissance, not just nationally, but globally.”
Rearick says work produced by local artists in a variety of media is another way of telling the story and identity of Pittsburgh. The Terminal Modernization Program includes ample space and opportunity to showcase that work to the millions of passengers moving through the airport each year.
A panel of experts created by the Allegheny County Airport Authority is reviewing PIT’s permanent art collection to analyze how it can enrich the new terminal, said Rearick, who recently completed the airport’s five-year arts and culture master plan.
The panel will make recommendations to the terminal design team, suggesting different ways to create spaces for artwork. While all options are on the table, Rearick said, some beloved current pieces and installations are extremely likely to be featured in the new terminal, although the panel may “more thoughtfully consider how to integrate them” into the new space.
In addition to the airport’s most familiar art, such as Alexander Calder’s mobile Pittsburgh, the new space offers a chance to shine a spotlight on more regional voices with fresh perspectives.
“We will always advocate for space for local artists,” Rearick said. “We will continue to provide platforms for local artists to show work with our rotating spaces, further displaying the vibrancy of our regional arts communities.”
To that end, the airport’s arts team is partnering with Monmade, a platform created by Bridgeway Capital that connects craftspeople with entrepreneurial opportunities to grow their businesses and increase visibility for their work. Monmade represents about 150 members of Pittsburgh’s “maker” community — men and women whose hands-on approach to creating arts and crafts are spurring creativity not just here, but around the world.
“Local artists carry on the Pittsburgh tradition of using their hands, producing small-batch manufactured items, made by artists,” Rearick said. “The craft field is seeing a resurgence on the global level, with Pittsburgh housing robust metals, glass and clay communities. This results not only in an economic impact, it also further supports the identity of our region.”
For more on Pittsburgh International Airport’s Terminal Modernization Program, visit pittransformed.com.