Unique art to see at the airport

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When the new terminal at Kansas City International Airport opens this spring, dozens of incredible works of art will greet travelers.

As part of Kansas City’s One Percent for Art program, the budget for art in KCI’s new terminal is $5.65 million. This makes it the largest public art project in Kansas City history.

From over 1,900 applicants, the Build KCI team selected 28 artists to create works for the terminal.

Nine of these pieces are large sculptures, hanging pieces and ceramics, which can be found in the main terminal areas, the arrivals road and the parking garage.

The request for these proposals was open to professional artists from around the world, but the selection committee consisted of local guides, art professionals and more. According to Build KCI, 75% of the pieces selected are by women or people of color.

The other 19 pieces are wall-based artworks found on the gates in the two halls.

These proposals were open to artists from the Kansas City area or those with significant ties to the area. Build KCI said the selection panel is made up of national art experts to ensure objectivity and 78% of the artists are women or people of colour.

Of all the art in KCI’s new terminal, 75% was created by artists in the Kansas City area or with close ties.

The Kansas City Aviation Department hasn’t set an official opening date, but officials have their sights set on March, and an announcement is expected soon.

Take a look at all of the artwork by local, national and international talent that you’ll find in the new Kansas City Airport terminal and parking garage:

The air up there

A rendition of Nick Cave’s “The Air Up There” (photo courtesy of Build KCI)

This massive work of art, created by internationally acclaimed artist Nick Cave, hangs from the Check-in hall Ceiling. It features thousands of colorful pinwheels, many featuring local connections like shuttlecocks and fountains. The city commissioned the play for $1 million.


“Wings” by John Balistreri (photo courtesy of Build KCI)

This large-scale ceramic piece by sculptor John Balistreri is on display at the north end of the Check-in hall. It features a human fingerprint, the Missouri River line, flowering dogwoods, and more.

Let the music carry you

At the southern end of the Check-in halltravelers will find large ceramic figures of a jazz band. Created by sculptor George Rodriguez, this piece pays homage to Kansas City’s rich jazz history.


A rendition of “Fountain” by Leo Villareal (photo courtesy of Build KCI)

There must be a fountain at the new terminal in the City of Fountains, and artist Leo Villareal’s rendering is sure to amaze travelers. You can find this piece in what KCI officials call Retail Node Awhere Concourse A intersects the Connector.

cloud gazing

A rendering of “Cloud Gazing” by SOFTlab/Michael Szivos (Photo via Build KCI)

This blanket piece, designed by SOFTlab and artist Michael Szivos, can be found in the Interconnects between the two halls. KCI officials say it’s made by interweaving images with colored backgrounds “into barrier-lattice animations to create the appearance of movement.”


Willie Cole working on “Ornithology” (Photo via Build KCI)

Artist Willie Cole’s work can be found in Retail Node B, the area between Concourse B intersects the connector. It will feature a dozen larger than life birds hanging from the ceiling, made up of alto saxophones. Cole said the play was a tribute to Kansas City native Charlie Parker.

Molten Swing

A rendition of “Molten Swing” by Soo Sunny Park (Photo by Build KCI)

Artist Soo Sunny Park’s eye-catching piece hangs in the Escalator to baggage claim, capture and reflect light. Build KCI crews said “Molten Swing” honors Kansas City jazz musician Bennie Moten, whose “Moten Swing” is “an innovative approach to big band music.”

sky prairie

A rendition of “Sky Prairie” by Jill Anholt (Photo via Build KCI)

When travelers step out of KCI’s new terminal, they’ll find this massive chunk of the Arrivals underpass. Created by artist Jill Anholt, Sky Prairie was inspired by the beautiful rolling hills surrounding Kansas City.


“Riff/Lift” by Hou de Sousa Studio (photo courtesy of Build KCI)

If you park in the new garage next to the KCI terminal, you’re likely to find these colorful creations by Hou de Sousa Studio. “The project’s streamlined fins evoke the properties of feathers and wings,” says Build KCI.

There are 19 wall-based parts in Hall A and Hall B, located near the gate lounges. Build KCI crews have not disclosed where to find specific parts in the concourses.

Laura Berman

This three-part work by artist Laura Berman is called “Kansas Rays”. A native of Spain, Berman is currently a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, where her teaching includes printmaking, the technique she uses for this KCI piece.

Mona Cliff

Artist Mona Cliff’s piece for the new terminal is made of live edge wood and beads. The Lawrence-based artist explores Native American culture through their traditional craft methods, such as beadwork, according to her biography.

Santiago Cucullu

KCI artwork by Santiago Cucullu (Photo by Build KCI)

Artist Santiago Cucullu created this archival digital print for Kansas City’s new terminal. Cucullu is a visiting professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, which has been featured in numerous international exhibitions.

Mural by JT Daniels

Mural by JT Daniels (Photo via Build KCI)

You can find the JT Daniels murals all over the Kansas City area and now one will be on display in the KCI terminal. He will have acrylic paintings on three wooden panels.

Israel Alejandro Garcia Garcia

“Diaspora No. 1” is the name of this multimedia installation by the artist Israel Alejandro Garcia Garcia. According to KC Studio, he incorporated a variety of pieces such as photos, fabrics, his father’s immigration card and more. They all tie into stories of displacement for people of color.

John Hans

John Hans Photography (Photo via Build KCI)

Photographer John Hans’ work is on display at KCI Airport as a three-part print. His piece captures a tetrahedron wind indicator over cone markers at an Excelsior Springs airport, he told KC Studio.

Kwanza Humphrey

Artist Kwanza Humphrey with his pieces (Photo via Build KCI)

Johnson County artist Kwanza Humphrey created five oil paintings on canvas for the terminal. According to his website, he features five people from different backgrounds who represent what it’s like to live in the Kansas City area.

Debbie Barrett Jones

Textile artist Debbie Barrett-Jones has created four metal prints from a woven piece. After the original was made, it was photographed in four different ways, printed on aluminum and framed.

Rachel Hubbard Kline

Teacher and artist Rachel Hubbard Kline’s beautiful mosaic tiles were combined like a quilt and placed in large, unique frames. The tiles feature newspaper ads and headlines from the 1950s.

Kathy Liao

Artist Kathy Liao with her work in progress, Hello and Goodbye (Photo via Build KCI)

Artist Kathy Liao’s work entitled “Hello and Goodbye” combines painted wood panels with ceramic inserts. Taiwanese-born Liao, who currently works at Mid-America Arts Alliance, said her “mixed media work is about the intimate yet universal concept of relationships.”

Linda Lichton

Linda Lighton’s painted tile work for KCI (photo courtesy of Build KCI)

Kansas City-based artist Linda Lighton looks to nature for her KCI end piece. It features Great Plains flowers and insects painted on tiles.

John Lauter

Artist John Louder has created four oil paintings on canvas entitled Lines of Sight, Lines of Flight. The University of Central Missouri professor shows country roads and a view of planes flying overhead.

sean nash

Artist Sean Nash’s piece creates a three-dimensional mixed media piece that honors minority growers in the Kansas City area. Nash said on social media he visited six farms “to learn from the farmers and document the relationships between people, plants and communities.”

Stephen Prosky

Kansas City artist Stephen Proski has created a three-part work for the new terminal. Proski, whose art, according to her biography, “deals with her own personal experience of blindness,” also has work in the Kansas City Museum.

Rachelle Gardner Roe

Johnson County artist Rachelle Gardner-Roe created this three-part piece for the new terminal entitled Flyover Country: The Wild Side. It is made from hand-dyed wool and features colorful creatures and nature from the region.

Hasna Sal

A rendition of Hasna Sal’s piece for the new KCI terminal (courtesy of Build KCI)

Artist Hasna Sal has created a large Venetian glass painting using the sgraffito technique, which is then framed in custom-made light boxes. “Nostalgia” is the name of the colorful piece.

Kati Toivanen

Kati Toivanen’s piece “I-Spy Carry-On” is a digital collage. Inside, KCI passengers will find everything from keys to small toys — all kinds of personal items a family might pack in their luggage, Toivanen said.

Bernadette Esperanza Torres

Kansas City artist Bernadette Esperanza Torres’ colorful piece is titled Beautiful Dreams of the Places You Will Go. In her proposal, Torres said it is a custom digital print of handmade ceramic flowers and painted ceramic tiles, and it also has some three-dimensional aspects.


Hong Zhang’s running KCI piece (Courtesy Build KCI)

Lawrence-based artist Hong Zhang has created two intricate charcoal drawings for the new terminal. For over 20 years she has focused on hair as a central theme of her work and has created the piece on the right. The other piece is called “Kansas Braids,” Zhang said.


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