Art Display at Airport – Why Not?

Ford Airport welcomes works of Kendall Students

by Janice Limbaugh

Light boxes once displaying advertising now feature photographic artwork from Kendall graduate Matt Gubanesik. Photo courtesy of Matt Gubanesik
Light boxes once displaying advertising now feature photographic artwork from Kendall graduate Matt Gubanesik. Photo courtesy of Matt Gubanesik

If you think about it, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GFIA) is a perfect venue for displaying artwork. With over 6000 visitors passing through its terminals annually, the airport naturally attracts streams of onlookers and passersby.  That’s what GFIA Executive Director Brian Ryks thought a little over  a year ago when the idea came to him to approach David Rosen, president of Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University (KCAD) about having an exhibit at the airport.

Gubanesik's photo "Through the Wave" is created from petroleum jelly and lighting.
Gubanesik’s photo “Through the Wave” is created from petroleum jelly and lighting.


“It’s important for us to showcase West Michigan culture to the visitors who pass through here,” says Ryks. “Art is a certainly a big part of our culture with Grand Rapids hosting Art Prize every year. Like Art Prize, this installation is a great way to share the conversation of art with our guests. ”


According to KCAD’s curator, Tom Post, the new partnership allows the college the opportunity to curate art in a public exhibition area, an experience now open to all KCAD’s graduate and undergraduate students .


“As a college we’re excited! Not all of our students get the opportunity to work in public space,” Post says. “Now we can bring them here and say, ‘Let’s think of the area. Let’s think of the size. Let’s think of the content, and see what they come up with. It’s terrific!”Lake Mi


Ryks says the plan is to rotate art every three to four months on a seasonal basis throughout various spaces in the airport terminals, concourses and parking structures. Two dimensional and three dimensional works from a variety of both KCAD’s Undergraduate and Graduate Programs will be included in the displays.

Lauri Hunt
Laurie Hunt, KCAD graduate student has her print works displayed above the Grand Lobby.


The first installation is up now and features the work of Graduate Students Laurie Hunt and Matt Gubancsik. Hunt graduated from KCAD with a degree in graphic design and is currently working on her master’s in fine arts in print making. Her banners can be found hanging from the ceiling of the Grand Lobby. They depict Michigan lakes and speak of environmental concerns and the fragility of our delicate ecosystem. “This work is about the lack of connection we have, both physically and spiritually, with the natural world,” explains Hunt. To explain what’s going on to visitors,  information about the artist and her work are displayed on tabletops throughout the lobby.

Matt B
KCAD graduate student, Matt Gubanesik stands by one of his photographs displayed in the parking garage. He creates nature scenes from various materials. Photo by Matt Gubanesik.

Meanwhile, Gubancsik’s photos explore environments that are illusion and fabricated, but are informed by a sense of awe and the sublime as found in nature. His largeposter-size photos are displayed in light boxes along the walkways in the parking garage.


“We are a region where creativity is all around us, in our businesses, our institutions, our furnishings, our architecture, and even our foods and festivals,” says KCAD President David Rosen. “How wonderful that when we come home or someone new enters our home, the first sight is of this creativity that makes our region special. How wonderful that the last sight that travelers behold leaves an impression of our creativity. I feel honored that KCAD has been asked to help fashion those important impressions that remind us, and that tell others, who we are and what we stand for.”