San Diego International Airport commissioned two site-specific, original public artworks for its new International Arrivals Facility, which opened in June 2018. Both works were conceived of with the unique nature of the facility in mind, with particular consideration given to the fact that the site will be many travelers’ first experience of San Diego’s culture.
The first artwork customers will view when entering the facility is Walter Hood’s Carry On. Created in collaboration with more than 80 local contributors, this 225 foot long glass partition wall paints a portrait of San Diego and the airport community. Hood uses familiar iconography of the airport in the form of the x-ray bag to reveal the culture and interests of San Diegans. To create the work, Hood led multiple community workshops in order to photograph objects of importance to participants. Though each item has personal symbolism to an individual contributor, local visitors and international travelers alike are sure to find connection and meaning of their own among the 624 unique objects included.
Upon exiting the facility, passengers and loved ones greeting them will experience Paths Woven, by artist Aaron T. Stephan. Composed of twenty-five gracefully spiraling ladders and more than four miles of wood laminate, the work features an intricate and dense accumulation of maple forms. A single ladder made of California Claro Walnut, native to the Southern California region, extends out across the space. Stephan chose the symbol of the ladder as a reflection of the airport as a site where hundreds of individual journeys converge and depart, and more specifically, of the international arrivals site as one where families and loved ones will reunite and embrace.