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Purchase The First to Tour LaGuardia’s Premier Public Art Collection

The Global Studies class Place, Space and Belonging experienced the transformational renovations at LaGuardia airport’s Terminals C and B.

Students view the art on display in LaGuardia Airport Terminals B and C
Purchase was thrilled to be the first college to tour the transformational renovations and impressive art collections at LaGuardia airport’s newly refurbished Terminals C and B on March 14, 2024.

Global Studies Class: Place, Space and Belonging

Professors Melissa Forstorm and Shaka McGlotten led a Global Studies field trip to learn about the award-winning overhaul (Best New Airport Terminal in the World), and the significant role of art in place-making and improving the transit experience.

The class Place, Space and Belonging was welcomed by NY-NJ Port Authority’s Senior External Relations Manager John Vicinanza and Director of Government and Community Relations Hersh Parekh, who accompanied us on an exploration of both terminals to better understand liminal spaces of “belonging” and how our surroundings, when distinguished by intentional design and creative expression, can impact sense of place-making in transient settings.

Those Who Make It Run

We typically think of airports as fleeting non-places or placeless spaces. But what does this say about the many thousands who spend the majority of their workdays ensuring that terminals run according to plan; for which airports configure the bulk of their waking hours during long workweeks?

Mexican-born artist Aliza Nisenbaum’s mural “The Ones Who Make it Run recenters workers vanished from view by tropes of airports as no more than transitory vessels where no one belongs.

Mariam Ghani's The Worlds We Speak (debossed, glazed, handmade ceramic tile; brushed steel; approx. 365 sq... The Power of Public Art

Commissioned in partnership with Delta Air Lines and the Queens Museum, and LaGuardia Gateway Partners together with Public Art Fund, the art collections bring invisibilized peoples into focus and our interconnectedness to each other and life on earth to the fore.

They honor the rich immigrant history of New York City and celebrate cultural diversity from across the globe.

Mariam Ghani’s “The Worlds We Speak” depicts a multicolored mosaic of languages and dialects spoken throughout New York’s five boroughs—more than 700!

Work by Fred Wilson '76, Mother installed at LaGuardia Airport Piece of Purchase

Especially noteworthy among the works of art is “Mother” by Purchase College alum Fred Wilson ’76. The installation represents humanity’s complex relationship to earth and our collective responsibility for the planet we inhabit together.

All in all, the global multicultural dimensions of this site visit served as a reminder that faraway travel is but one way to experience or learn about globality.

We extend our sincere thanks to the New York Port Authority, Delta Air Lines, and LaGuardia Gateway Partners officials who made the field trip possible, and memorable—providing an eye-opening foray into airports as transportation hubs that embody more than ephemeral significance.