Two works by Minnesota artist, Anne Labovitz, are the first pieces of nonrepresentational art to be commissioned by Airport Foundation MSP for its permanent art collection at Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport.
Designed by Labovitz, Bon Voyage! and Happy Travels! are mosaics fabricated by Miotto Mosaic Art Studios in collaboration with Travisanutto Giovanni SRL. Created using traditional Venetian smalti glass, the mosaics were installed in MSP’s Terminal 1 Departures Hall in late February. The vibrant, abstract works represent the artist’s examination of color psychology and transformation of public space in contemporary artmaking practice.
Installations of various regional artists are on view throughout the airport in permanent and rotating exhibits, often in partnership with the Metropolitan Airports Commission. The program has been ongoing since 2008 and was conceived to give travelers a sense of place as they travel through the facility. Works include floor mosaics, murals, hanging sculptures and large framed installations that give pause and presence to what is often a stressed and autopilot journey to and from a destination.
“I’m thrilled to see Anne’s paintings masterfully translated into mosaics for this project,” said Ben Owen. Director, Arts@MSP, Airport Foundation MSP. “The majority of MSP’s permanent collection of mosaics is representational, things that you can see in nature and in the rural and urban landscapes of the Upper Midwest. The addition of Labovitz’s work marks a noted departure from that, as we’re moving into nonrepresentational art with color, form, and texture being the primary subjects of the works.”
While a new direction for the airport’s permanent collection, two recent temporary installations by Labovitz had already demonstrated the popularity of her abstract style of art.
“In commissioning Labovitz to create pieces for our permanent collection the positive response from both travelers and staff to her two prior installations played a key role in our decision,” explained Owen. “In addition, we were excited about the color and emotive qualities of her work for activating this space. Azure blues may remind you of your favorite swimming hole. Oranges, yellows, hot pinks, and deep purples call to mind memories of the sun as it slips just below the horizon. When travelers are departing Minnesota, we want to leave them with a great lasting impression. Labovitz’s work does that.”
Throughout her career, Labovitz has consistently focused on themes of connectivity, unity, and community, but in recent years these messages seem to be resonating with audiences, especially within the world of public art.
“My work interprets feelings of joy, hope and calm, and conveys them through color and shape,” stated Labovitz. “With all the chaos and negativity we’ve witnessed in recent years, I think we’re all thirsty for things that will inspire and uplift our spirit.”
“Color is an incredibly personal experience that affects human emotions,” explained Labovitz. “For me, color is a life force. The saturated colors are intended to enrich your experience and provide a place of joy and calm. The rich, bold Venetian glass mosaic is carefully crafted, hand-cut, and elegantly placed by Italian artisans.
“This work is created to share hope, friendship, and cross-cultural exchange. It’s about engaging people across cultural and geographical boundaries. I hope this optimism sends travelers onward with a sense of peace and well-being.”
Bon Voyage! and Happy Travels! are original artworks commissioned by and in the public art collection of the Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minneapolis, Minn. Designed by Labovitz, each mosaic is 115.5 x 120 x 1 inches and constructed of smalti glass cut and assembled by Travisanutto Giovanni SRL in Spilimbergo, Italy, in collaboration with Miotto Mosaics Art Studios of New York. Smalti (the plural of smalto) are specialized mosaic tesserae (tiny hand-cut tiles) made from richly colored glass. Originally developed for Byzantine mosaics, the glass contains metal oxides which produce an almost infinite range of rich, luminous colors.
While Bon Voyage! and Happy Travels! are the first permanent installations of Labovitz’s work at one of the country’s busiest airports, the colorful works are the third installation she has had there within as many years.