Culture awaits you: Arts in the Airport!

IMG_7058Since flying has become my transportation of choice lately, I find that I have definite airport preferences:  I like quality shops, local and gourmet restaurants along with fast food, a Starbucks in every terminal, and art.  Yes, I’m drawn to art in airports.  Especially in my favorite airport: McGhee Tyson — in my own hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee.

logonowhiteMcGhee Tyson is small compared to major airline hubs and multi-terminal airports.  But it’s that smallness that appeals to me.  I like knowing that there are only two ways to turn after going through security, and if I go left when I should go right, I’ll still only be a few steps from getting back to where I need to be.

Sometimes when I’m redressing myself (!) after going through the scanning process, I see something that really catches my eye like the newest exhibit of Arts in the Airport!  Sponsored by the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville ( and the Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, this interesting exhibit of 2- and 3-dimensional artwork greets me right past the security gate and makes wait time far more tolerable.  More cultural, too.

Regional artists submit pieces twice yearly for this juried exhibition offering varied expresssions from lithographs to pottery and then some.  Here are a few that caught my eye.  (Please excuse the glare from the floor-to-ceiling windows on some of my photos.  The artwork is definitely more beautiful than the pics!)

Positioned in the center is Shohreh “Nazzy” Hashemian’s “Birth of TYS”, a large mixed media and acrylic piece depicting U. S. Navy pilot Charles McGhee Tyson (lost on patrol in WWI) for whom the airport was named.


This quilt entitled “For Munner, Who Taught Me to Love Flowers” by Jake Ingram won an Award of Merit. The close-up shows off the blanket stitching around bunnies of various fabrics.



Lil Clinard’s “74 Toss Glider (circa 1950)” reveals the wonder of children in this watercolor on canvas.


A most graphic black ink and acrylic “Bug 1” is Chris Hornsby’s entry.  You can definitely see this one from a distance!


Unlike “Bug 1,” this rubber stamped monotype had to be examined more closely.  Carl Gombert’s “Gnomandala XIV (Flight)” features tiny black images carefully arranged in circles.  From afar, it’s an interesting geometric piece, but up close the images of Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, and the Cracker Jack logo just make me smile!



These two shots of a lithograph by Emmy Lingscheit will help you examine this more closely, too.  Entitled “Interchange,” it offers a glimpse of the intersection of two 18-wheelers on the interstate while flocks of birds fly clustered in an interesting pattern overhead.  Love the color and details in this one.



Bobbie Crews, whose work can be seen at The Emporium Center in Knoxville, chose to revise a familiar subject in her watercolor and ink portrayal “American Gothic Revisited.”


“The Pets of the Protogenois” also bears a closer look.  Artist Eric Buechel labeled the medium as a “Digiograph print on Hahnemuhle hot press rag paper,” but I just call it “stunning.” Whatever creatures these are (jellyfish?), they look even better lined up in circular formation!



Acrylic cases held 3-dimensional art like this creation by Raluca Iancu: “Pile Up.”  The label accompanying it reads “Screenprinting (assembled in 3D).”  And when you walk around it, you really get a sense of the creativity and skill it took to complete.


Two other pieces caught my eye.  In the foreground is Bill Lee’s “Covered Jar.” And behind it is “Over Sand & Sea,” a clay and glass assemblage by Elaine Barnes. (Hmmm.  Would look nice in my living room.)


Exhibits remain in place approximately six months at McGhee Tyson, and viewing is confined to visitors flying in or out of the airport.  However, guests may get a first look at the exhibition during opening receptions or by appointment.  Contact Becky Huckaby, Director of Public Relations (865.342.3014.)

If you’re passing through McGhee Tyson, allow a little extra time.  You just may want to check out “Arts in the Airport” and get cultured!!

Arts & Culture Alliance

P. O. Box 2506

Knoxville, TN 37901




Web Site:

McGhee Tyson Airport




15 thoughts on “Culture awaits you: Arts in the Airport!

    1. Rusha Sams

      I guess the coolness factor is in the eyes of the beholder! If my art or photography had been accepted into a show like this, I’d feel pretty cool. Hmm. Maybe we should both submit something from our travels! Happy Labor Day!

  1. FreeRangeCow

    Oh, Rusha, how excellent! I loved so many of them, but I think “the wonder of children” has stuck with me the most! My nephews would DIE to see the pile of cars! LOL!

    1. Rusha Sams

      It’s always fascinating to me to see what artists create. I’m always wondering, “How’d they even think of this??” Thanks for reading!


    Hey Rusha. I’ve spent my share of time in airports, and while I can’t say that I enjoy the experience, it’s certainly more pleasant if there’s interesting art to see. Most airports seem to use the opportunity to showcase local artists, and it tends to be avante-garde, which I enjoy. The art helps to calm me down for the “frisking” I’m about to get at security. ~James

    1. Rusha Sams

      You are so right! I hadn’t really thought about the calming effect, but now that you mention it, I do feel better when I’m focused on what’s new in different airports rather than what’s being scanned! Thx for reading!

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