After Mr. Jacobs and Ms. Smith finish, Sandra Lopez-Monsalve, a multimedia producer, will be up. She will record ambient noises around the airport and make an electronic map with them. Anyone will be able to go online, click on a spot on the map, and play the sounds heard every day in that exact location.
After that Sherwin Banfield, a visual artist, will draw the passengers walking by him and then do a large mural based on the sketches. Finally, Brian Soliwoda, the co-founder of Salt Tree Art, a design firm that focuses on using sustainable and regenerative products, will create a sculpture of a clipper ship in honor of the terminal’s seaplane history.
“A lot of airports have art,” said Lysa Scully, the general manager of La Guardia Airport. “But having active and involved art that customers engage with, that is the unique model. I haven’t seen that anywhere.”
The idea to have interactive artwork in the airport was first proposed at a Queens Community Board 1 meeting by a resident who lives close to the airport. Frustrated that so many tourists land in Queens but head straight to Manhattan, he stood up and asked if there was a way to showcase the borough’s vibrant art scene at the airport. Ms. Scully, who was leading the meeting, was immediately hooked.
She reached out to the Queens Council on the Arts, a nonprofit organization that had experience planting quirky artists in the path of visitors. For the past two years, the council has set up artists of all kinds in hotels around Queens — the program is called the QCA ArtHotel Residency — including those adjacent to the airports. An artist currently hangs out in the lobby of rate SpringHill Suites, a Marriott property at La Guardia, drafting sketches of the borough’s many locations and events. The idea is to showcase Queens artists to travelers staying in the property.
Daniel Bamba, the organization’s grants and residencies manager, said he knew immediately that he could do the same type of project for the airport. “We found projects that really took into account the location they are going to be in and the people who will be passing through on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “We want to give these artists exposure to an insane amount of people.”
Terminal A was chosen as the home of the ArtPort Residency, as it is officially named, “because it was a space we completely controlled,” Ms. Scully said. But all parties involved agree the space is far from ideal.