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An Ode to Nature: Art in the N Concourse

May 25, 2021

The art collection at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) adds to the travel experience by augmenting the aesthetics of the terminal and creating a Pacific Northwest sense of place. The expanded and modernized N Concourse opened to passengers with the debut of new, incredible works of art. From 2D work to one of the biggest site-specific installations placed inside an airport, you will be able to admire quality work created by local and national artists. We hope to spark your curiosity and elevate your experience.

The N Concourse brings 10 new pieces of art to the airport, reflecting the Pacific Northwest’s diverse environment, culture, spirit, people, and history.

Map of art in the North Satellite

John Grade, Boundary, 2021

Local to Seattle, John Grade works with his studio team to create sculptures, from small-scale to immersive large-scale sculptures. His artwork is exhibited across the United States and in Europe. 

Boundary was installed in the North Satellite in May 2021. The 40 feet high, 85 feet wide, and 25 feet deep sculpture made with Alaskan yellow cedar, welcomes passengers arriving in the North Satellite. 
With this artwork, the artist pushes the boundaries of what we are used to see when we look at trees. Instead of displaying the branches and leaves, Boundary represents a stylized version of root system and the trunk of an old-growth Western Red Cedar. 

The artist offers us an interesting contrast between the imposing dimension, and the lightness given by the shapes of the sculpture. The shadows on the wall add a grandiose effect to the artwork.

Blackleaf by Deborah ButterfieldDeborah Butterfield, Blackleaf, 2017

Deborah Butterfield is a sculptor based between Montana and Hawaii. The artist first started creating horses using natural materials such as mud, clay, and sticks. Then, she began using reclaimed materials such as found steel and scrap metal. For the past 20 years, Butterfield has been using bronze casts of branches and sticks to create her horses. 

Installed in the North Satellite in May 2021, Blackleaf is seven feet tall and represents a standing horse. The use of driftwood gives a sense of fragility, but the sculpture is entirely made of cast bronze, and weighs 1,800 pounds. Historically, equine sculptures have displayed war horses with soldiers and kings. With the head dropped, Blackleaf depicts a relaxed horse, probably asleep. By choosing to represent a horse resting without any human representations, Butterfield takes the opposite direction to what was done in the past. Standing up, or lying down, Deborah’s horses are all gentle giants. 

Krista Birnbaum, Canopy, 2021

Canopy by Krista Birnbaum
Image by Rafael Soldi

Coming to NSAT later in July, Canopy by Krista Birnbaum uses preserved mosses and stylized branch forms to reference the epiphyte-covered tree canopy of Pacific Northwest rainforests. Made of topographic relief features inspired from National Park maps, and preserved moss, the 35-foot-wide artwork will cover the entire length of a wall in the N gates. 

To fabricate Canopy the artist collaborated with two other companies. Studio Fifty50, a Seattle based design-make studio, used a CNC machine to create the branch forms, designed to suggest topographic maps. Planted design, a women-owned business based in California, added the preserved mosses that bring this vertical garden to life. With this biophilic design, the artist wishes to increase our connection with the natural environment.

Artist selection was a collaboration between the Port of Seattle’s Public Art Program and the Environmental Department. The artwork should be installed in the North Satellite this July. Krista Birnbaum grew up in Ohio, and currently resides in Houston, Texas. She received an MFA from Syracuse University and a BFA from Miami University.

Cable Griffith, Cascadia, 2019-2020

Cascadia by Cable Griffith
Photo credit: Rafael Soldi

The North Satellite Modernization Project brings together a facility upgrade for travelers connecting between Concourse C and the North Satellite on the satellite train. In addition to new energy-efficient escalators and new elevators, SEA added a permanent art installation, Cascadia, which wraps around the entrance of the Concourse C satellite train station.

Cascadia by Cable Griffith is a multi-paneled glass artwork that conveys the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest. A digital impression comes from the numerous squares covering the glass panels. Using different shades of blue, green, and yellow, the artist mimics the vibrant colors visible in the Pacific Northwest. While walking around the artwork, you will discover hundreds of small patterns, and some bigger stylized representation of natural elements such as trees and waterfalls. 

Griffith is a local artist, curator, and educator living and working in Seattle, WA. He received a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from the University of Washington. He is a professor at Cornish College of the Arts and is represented by Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle. To create the structural design of his site-specific installation, Griffith worked with the local company Studio Fifty50. The 22 hand-painted glass panels were fabricated in Germany by Glasmalerei Peters Studio.

Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew, Cathedral, 2019

Cathedral by Metz&Chew

Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew, known as Metz&Chew, are visual artists located in British Columbia, Canada. They met at the University of British Columbia in 1986 and found their common interests in architecture, public space, landscape, and cultural thought. They have been working together since 1997. Commissioned by the Port of Seattle, Cathedral was installed in the North Satellite at SEA in 2019. 

This site-specific installation includes two elements: 20 etched glass panels that encase one side of the elevator to the mezzanine level to the Alaska Airlines Lounge and Nursing Suite and were made by Franz Mayer of Munich, and a cast bronze log at the base of the elevator that was fabricated in Oregon by Blue Mountain Fine Art.

The bronze log is a reminder of the magnificent coastline with its numerous tree trunks, and the verticality of the twenty glass panels make us think of the countless trees visible in the Pacific Northwest. Like you could during a walk on the beach, or a hike in the forest, the two artists invite you to sit on the log or lean against it and admire the majestic presence of Cathedral. With this art installation, Metz & Chew offer us a microcosm of the beauty visible in the Pacific Northwest. 

Russian-French artist Marc Chagall once said, “great art picks up where nature ends.” This is true for the artworks of the North Satellite. In perfect harmony, these installations share wood as a common thread and all illustrate in their unique way, the beauty of nature. 

Art in the Nursing Suite

During the pandemic, SEA acquired 17 artworks to support the local art community, beautify airport spaces, and diversify the Port’s art collection with more women and minority artists. The airport displays five of those pieces by talented female artists in the North Satellite’s Nursing Suite. 

Lauren Boilini, As above, so below

As above, so below by Lauren Boilini

This watercolor ink on paper on board depicts white feathers circling on a blue background. The artist proposes a fascinating contrast between the delicacy of the motif and the dynamism of the composition. Either floating on the water or swirling in the air under a blue sky, this artwork has a mesmerizing effect on the viewers. 

The artist explains, “In my current body of work I look at the idea of excess, when images of excess become meaningless and fall into the realm of pattern. This idea of gluttony is reflected in our current culture. We are a hedonistic society, always looking for more until the more we are looking for loses its meaning.”

Lauren Boilini was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana. She received her B.F.A. in Painting and Art History at the Kansas City Art Institute in 2006. In 2008 she completed her M.F.A. at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, MD.

Leah Nguyen, Yellow Bear 15

Yellow Bear 15 by Leah Nyugen

Yellow Bear 15 is a monotype and pronto print on paper. In her series Yellow Bear, the local artist created seventeen different versions of the work. The optical print made for the most part of warm colors hypnotizes us with its kaleidoscopic design. The artist shares, “My work celebrates the harmony and deep pattern of the universe. I create glimpses of the invisible life force that unifies everything and direct our attention to the unspeakably spacious beauty that is the essence of all.”

Leah Nyugen graduated from the University of Washington in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts. Afterwards, she moved to New York City, where she worked at a garden shop. In the 2000’s, the local artist came back to Washington state. 

Malayka Gormally, Grandmother and Grandson, Members of the Ethiopian community in Seattle
Malayka Gormally, Young Mothers, Members of the Ethiopian community in Seattle

Malayka Gormally, Grandmother and Grandson

Made of ink, watercolor, and gouache on handmade paper made in India from recycled clothing, these two portraits were realized in 2017. They are a part of the artist’s series Immigrant women created between 2017-2020. A reassuring feeling emanates from these two artworks. In one, the grandmother closes her eyes while holding her grandson in her arms. In the other, the young child is asleep with his head resting on his mother’s shoulder. The other characters present in each artwork are making eye-contact with the viewers, inviting us to connect with them. 

Malayka Gormally was born in the San Francisco Bay area. She first studied at UC Davis, Swarthmore College, and the University of Oregon, before completing a Bachelor of Arts at the Evergreen State College. 

Tyna Ontko, Garden

Garden by Tyna Ontko

Garden is a site-specific composition of thousands of detailed drawn, hand printed, and hand cut paper forms, representing elements of flora and fauna. Flowers, ants, bees, artichokes, and pomegranates scattered in circles or half-circles create a poetic movement to this arrangement. The delicacy of the artwork is shown by the countless needles used to elevate each cut-out from the medium. By doing so, Ontko creates a lyrical dynamism where each small print projects its own shadow. 

Tyna Ontko is a local artist who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Western Washington University in Bellingham. Ontko is an interdisciplinary artist creating sculptures made of carved yellow cedar. 

We know that traveling can be stressful, especially for families with young children. With these five artworks from four female artists living and working in Seattle, the Nursing Suite welcomes you, so you can feel at home in an intimate space away from the busy terminal.

The N Concourse at SEA offers you a large diversity of museum quality artworks by local and national artists. While you wait to board your plane or connecting flight, take the time to explore art.

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