Art at RDU
Throughout RDU's terminals and grounds, find pieces of art focusing on the theme “mindmade, hand-made.” This theme highlights the Research Triangle Region's strengths in technology, medicine and education. It also showcases the region's heritage of fine arts and crafts.
RDU features 15 works of art by both nationally and locally-renowned artists.
Suspended above the concourse, Cloudscape provides passengers with “a place of contemplation and dreams for travelers anticipating their new destinations,” says artist Mei-ling Hom. She also describes the cloud as symbolic of voyaging beyond the horizon and ascending from the ground.
The hanging sculpture comprises about 50 intricate cloud formations from steel hex netting suspended by discreet cabling. The clouds vary in size from two to 20 feet and span the entire width of the concourse. Some touch the ceilings, while others dip to just 18 feet from the floor.
Artist Heath Satow's vision for this piece came from long ago, when men dreamed of flying. His piece graces the lobby of the airport's 22,000 square foot General Aviation Terminal.
“This piece is intended to remind visitors of a time before we soared among the clouds,” he said. “A time when our ancestors dreamed of reaching the heavens, and, for us as children, the awe we had for flight before experiencing our first take-off.”
It consists of large stainless steel figures looking wistfully to the heavens. A mobile above the figures consists of 1,000 pieces of cut stained glass in cobalt and light blue symbolizing the images of flight found in the clouds.
Installation of the mobile took three days as each piece of glass was attached by hand to fine stainless steel thread and hung from a metal frame near the building's ceiling.
Soaring above the parking garage atrium is Earlier Flight, which pays homage to the early days of air travel. The piece was designed and built by former Southwest Airlines employee Dunne Dittman, who views the piece as a vision of a bygone era of suitcases adorned with destination stickers that represented a simpler time for air travel.
The flock spans 56 feet long and 35 feet wide. It was proportioned to the dimensions of the parking garage atrium. Each bird is fitted with a wooden frame for stability and is carefully hung with stainless steel cables to gently sway with the motion of air and vibration from the garage.
Location: Terminal 2, International Arrivals Bag Claim
Artist: Jane Filer
Installation: February 2011
This 45-foot mural was commissioned by the Triangle Area Sister Cities to celebrate the Research Triangle Region's 13 international sister cities. Created by Carrboro-based artist Jane Filer, it features images of smiling, happy figures mixed with images from various countries and North Carolina symbols.
The theme of the painting is Sister Cities International's slogan, “World Peace: One Friend, One Community at a Time.”
Friendly Folks is located in the international arrivals bag claim. The area is open to the public when an international flight is not being processed.
Gate of Air
Location: Terminal 2, South Entry Area
Artist: Lydia Rubio
Installation: January 2011
This is one of two installations in Terminal 2 created by Lydia Rubio. Gate of Air is a sculpted spiral that is in the shape of a seashell. It begins in the terminal's bag claim area and extends up a light well and over an escalator into the building's ticketing lobby.
The piece represents the elements of air and water, which are symbolized by a spiral that builds upward from a sea shell. This sculpture evokes an upward growth, a transformation from solid to light.
This is one of two installations in Terminal 2 created by Lydia Rubio. Gate of Earth is an aluminum and steel tree that begins outside and appears to enter the inside of the terminal. It enters the building in bag claim and extends up a light well into the building’s ticketing lobby. The tree is accompanied by a small cardinal, the North Carolina state bird.
The artwork considers feelings associated with leaving or returning home or traveling into the world. Traditional North Carolina symbols — trees and birds — are combined with the words of North Carolina writer Thomas Wolfe.
Location: Terminal 1 Bag Claim
Artist: Gordon Huether
Installation: February 2014
Highwire Travelers is suspended above the Terminal 1 bag claim lobby. The sculpture takes a whimsical approach to mimicking common airport scenes.
The sculpture is comprised of seven abstract figures. A few are on tightropes high above the terminal floor balancing luggage on long poles. Others are sitting on beams lower to the floor, incorporating the building’s architecture into the piece.
This piece is located on a glass wall that separates the security checkpoint from the concourse, visible to everyone who proceeds through the security checkpoint as well as those walking down the concourse.
Ripples comprises laser-etched glass that makes the artwork seem to move as the viewer walks by on the concourse side. It is an image of blue water, reflecting the sky, that includes ripple patterns of water and the reflections of trees
Metamorphosis will be located on a two-story wall that frames the escalator and staircase between the ticketing and security checkpoint levels. A portion of the wall covers a walkway between the elevators and checkpoint area, with a small portion of art only visible to individuals using that corridor.
This piece includes bold imagery and colors combined with intricate details that include nature scenes, a map of the world and an abstract of a North Carolina area road map. The work provides an immediate impact, but also includes intricate details to be discovered by repeat travelers.
Terminal 1 Tile Art
Location: Pedestrian tunnel between Terminal 1 and the parking garage
Artists: Drew and Linda Krouse, Robert Johnson
Installation Date: September 2002
Note: Access to this installation is currently closed due to the Terminal 1 Modernization Project.
North Carolina artists Drew and Linda Krouse, along with Painter Robert Johnson, created the airport's first permanent piece of art, which is displayed in the pedestrian tunnel connecting the parking garage with Terminal 1.
More than 2,500 tile pieces comprise six clay murals on the terminal's walls. The work includes two scenes each from the mountain, piedmont and coastal areas of the state. Scenes include the Neuse River, Mt. Mitchell, Sandhills, Pea Island, the Eno River and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.
Each mural is composed of 70-pound sections measuring 4 feet by 2 feet hand-made by the artists, which are based in the pottery center of Seagrove, N.C. Johnson, from Burnsville, N.C., researched and painted landscapes for the work.
Reminiscent of fine gems in a storefront window, Dunne Dittman's second artwork for RDU illustrates the appreciation the Airport Authority has for the millions of travelers who choose to fly to and from the airport each year.
More than 5,000 signatures from citizens of the Research Triangle Region and beyond were digitally etched into a six foot by four foot sea foam glass. They were captured in October 2008 during the Airport Authority's open house to showcase Terminal 2. At that time, visitors were asked to leave their signature on a piece of art that would one day be displayed in the terminal.
The glass is illuminated by LED lights and is encased in a contemporary stand made of reclaimed ambrosia maple and walnut.
As motorists approach RDU they are greeted by an outdoor sculpture that is a symbol of flight and North Carolina's role in aviation history. RDU's Triangle Icon commemorates the 100th anniversary of powered flight by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903. The sculpture evokes the spirit of invention and serves as a symbol for the Raleigh-Durham region.
A 50-foot tower anchors the work and points skyward, symbolizing man's aspiration to fly. The pair of intersecting wings represents the Wright Brothers and the notion of flight. The 120-foot elliptical ring represents the length of the Wright Brothers' first flight and the circuitous nature of air travel involving time, movement and return.
Triangle Icon is a joint project of the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, Durham and Wake Counties and the cities of Durham and Raleigh.
The spirit of Terminal 2's guiding theme of handmade and mind-made, is embodied in Ed Carpenter's work located in the terminal's central atrium. The piece features refined, hand-finished materials as reminders of North Carolina's legacy of craftsmanship. Wood masts, tipped with dichroic glass and LED lighting, are suspended from stainless steel cables. The sculpture creates triangular forms that suggest the Research Triangle Region.
The sculpture is an unmistakable icon and marker, providing identification and orientation to the traveler. It is positioned to be seen from long distances on either axis of the airline check-in area, and reveals increased complexity as one approaches and experiences the piece from every angle.
Passengers returning home or ending their journey at RDU will be greeted by a stone and glass mosaic mural created by Robert Kushner. The mural features a meadow of indigenous North Carolina flora and fauna. The familiar landscape of a meadow reminds travelers that they are at the end of a voyage and mimics the natural grasses found in North Carolina.
In the piece, Kushner incorporates the Terminal 2 roofline, which echoes the rolling hills of North Carolina. Beneath the hills is a close-up view of a meadow, which represents the humble elements of life that are easy to overlook in favor of more colorful events. However, when scrutinized, they yield a basic and dignified beauty that is specific and geographically unique. Kushner's mural features five different meadow grasses that were collected after a study of native North Carolina grasses in bloom. The marble mosaic is 7-feet high by 85-feet long.
Ellen Driscoll's glass installation extends 780 feet along the international arrivals corridor in Terminal 2, which overlooks concourse C. The piece provides visitors with a poetic set of coordinates to guide them as they disembark from their international flight and walk to U.S. Customs.
The design complements the “over-under” gesture of the terminal roof and mimics the movement of a bird's wing, as well as the interaction between the warp and weft in weaving, which is also a Terminal 2 design theme. A horizontal band traverses the mid-section of each glass panel and is a repeat pattern of a simple “basketweave” structure.
Driscoll's piece combines large gestures easily caught by those walking at a quick pace, as well as more detailed “micro gestures” that repeat travelers will discover. The larger gestures of the motion of a bird's wing in flight, along with an insect wing in flight, and the helix of DNA are linked to each other, while being informally linked to the roof structure.