(Left to Right) Studio views of Brian Soliwoda’s residency space (open now until April), the Landing Pages “kiosk” (ArtPort Session 1) and Sherwin Banfield’s studio for “Passenger Relief” (ArtPort Session 3)

Artists, regardless of where they live and work, often are looking for two things that are always in short supply: funds and affordable studio and exhibition spaces. When we first started the ArtPort Residency, I thought that that would be the biggest draw for artists interested in the program.

At face value, I saw it as an opportunity for artists to have a free space and receive a stipend to make new work – who wouldn’t want that? While that partly is the case – ArtPort artists will have access to a dedicated studio for 3 months as well as a stipend of $6500 – the residency program offers something even more valuable:  access to a unique location and audience.

 When the ArtPort Residency was in its planning stages, LaGuardia Airport General Manager Lysa Scully set out to start a program that enhances the airport environment by providing an artistic and cultural experience that will engage the traveling public with unexpected and participatory encounters. The mission to activate a “non-traditional” space like an airport rotunda makes the ArtPort Residency a unique program with rewarding benefits that exceed space and money.

Most importantly, ArtPort artists will have access. Access to the airport that visitors normally wouldn’t have, and access to engage the hundreds of people that go through the Marine Air Terminal every day.  

We hope that by working in an airport, artists are inspired by the particularities of this place – La Guardia’s s facilities, its history, its energy – and create works that enliven the space. Past ArtPort projects really took into account aspects of the airport to create work that was insightful and conscientious about what it meant to work in LaGuardia.  

ArtPort artists will have access. Access to the airport that visitors normally wouldn’t have, and access to engage the hundreds of people that go through the Marine Air Terminal every day.  

Inspired by LaGuardia’s history as an airport for Clipper seaplanes, current artist-in-resident Brian Soliwoda is constructing a biodegradable sculpture of a clipper ship, with seeds woven and embedded into its sails and structure. Each seed variety highlights a different plant with a role in New York City’s immigration history.  At the end of his project, Brian will be breaking down the sculpture and then planting it on airport grounds with help and permission from Port Authority.

Sandra Lopez-Monsalve and Sherwin Banfield both also worked with the team at LaGuardia to gain access to typically restricted areas. Sandra made recordings of ambient noises throughout the airport, including the rooftop of the MAT and the airplane runway (listen here). Sherwin also explored the tarmac, creating some sketches as research for his final bas-relief mural. Both Sandra and Sherwin were escorted by Port Authority staff, who gave them a rare look into the inner workings of the airport.


Prepatory sketches by ArtPort Resident Sherwin Banfield on the tarmac of LaGuardia Airport

Guided tours of the tarmac and other private areas can inspire new artist projects, but another aspect of the residency that is equally valuable is the number of new people artists can engage with while in studio.

Along with her ambient recordings, Sandra created a series of man-on-the-street recordings where she spoke to travelers at LaGuardia and asked them to reflect on what it means to travel.

For their project “Landing Pages”, writers Gideon Jacobs and Lexie Smith opened their studio to travelers about to fly. They were invited to give the Landing Pages team their flight number and contact information. Once the plane is airborne, Smith and Jacobs had the duration of the flight to write the traveler a new piece of fiction. The project was so successful that it was featured in major publications like the New York Times and Hyperallergic


ArtPort Artists Sandra Lopez-Monsalve (left, in blue) and Lexie Smith (right, in white) speaking with visitors to the studio space.

Artists have exposure to a large number of people who they normally wouldn’t interact with under typical circumstances. An artist can introduce visitors to their work, involve them in the project, or simply give them an insight into the artistic process. This engagement has a twofold benefit: first, it sets out to enliven the airport experience. Second, it allows artists to create innovative projects. 

This past year’s residency projects were all thoughtful about the location they worked in as well as the population they would be interacting with each week. They really did activate a normally “art-less” space to enliven the airport and engage a group of people who probably didn’t intend to see art while traveling. With the second year of the residency about to begin, we hope that the next group of artists continue the tradition of insightful projects that take full advantage of the airport and its travelers.

Interested in applying?


Want to learn more about the ArtPort Residency?

Visit our website for program guidelines and application here

For questions, email Dan Bamba, Grants and Residencies Manager at dbamba@queenscouncilarts.org

The QCA ArtPort Residency is a program of the Queens Council on the Arts, Queens Art Fund that is supported in part by the NYC DCLA, Greater NY Arts Development Fund, in partnership with the NYC Council and in partnership with the PANYNJ.


Since its founding in 1966, QCA has evolved into a wide-ranging arts service organization fostering live cultural experiences and providing grants, professional development, and education services throughout the borough including The Queens Arts Fund, Artist Commissioning Program, Su Casa Residency program, Professional Development workshops, Artist Leaders Circles, LAB and High School to Art School Portfolio Development Program.

More information can be found at www.queenscouncilarts.org.


Founded in 1921, PANYNJ builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency’s network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. PANYNJ also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. PANYNJ receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit http://www.panynj.gov.