One of the sights to behold at the Pittsburgh International Airport is the collection of art on display for travelers as they land. The airport is, as Michael Neumann and Shohei Katayama put it, “a welcome mat for Pittsburgh.”
Neumann and Katayama are two Masters of Fine Arts candidates at Carnegie Mellon who have worked on a new art installation called “Flight" for the Pittsburgh International Airport. The colorful and delicate art piece is composed of 225 individual aluminum pieces, each in the shape of a paper airplane, and they all come together to take the shape of a large paper airplane.
Both Neumann and Katayama cited multiple inspirations for their work of art, but their primary influence was Pittsburgh itself.
“We see this work as encapsulating the creativity and craft of city. The people here and the people who come here to work and attend school weave a colorful fabric of innovation, creativity, care, and culture that is the fingerprint of Pittsburgh. This sculpture is aspirational, embodying the thoughts and dreams that inspire Pittsburgh," the artists said.
The installation is one of many art pieces commissioned by the airport, adding a lot of life and color to what would otherwise be a plain airport. The sight is inviting for travelers and really emphasizes the vibrancy of the Pittsburgh community. As Neumann and Katayama put it:
“We wanted the travelers arriving to the Pittsburgh International Airport both coming home and staying here for the first time to feel joyful, excited, welcomed and open to potentiality of our community.”
They had a challenge ahead of them to create this art piece, and keeping with the theme of honoring the community, Neumann and Katayama say they could not have made this project without the help of several locals. “We worked with people here in Pittsburgh like Lawrence Hayhurst in Mechanical Engineering's TechSpark space here at CMU, received advice from CMU professors Bob Bingham and Carol Kumata, had metal fabrication done with Ray Appleby and Colin Butt at Technique Architectural Products, West Penn Laco mixed our Auto paint and the beautiful paint job was completed with Bruce Harvey at Pro Comp Custom. We also had  dollars of very special paints supplied to us through a generous sponsorship with Brian Fox, and Jill Brick at RM paints.”
The two are proud of the work they’ve done. For them, it’s all about “the opportunity to give weary travelers a smile.”