LaGuardia Airport, New York ◦ 2019
Wind & Waves
An homage to the nautical seaplanes of the Marine Air Terminal, and to the plants that propelled our migrations and manifested our cultural diversity.
Wind and Waves connected natural and social histories through a biodegradable sculpture of a clipper ship, with seeds woven and embedded into its sails and structure. Each seed variety highlighted a different plant with a role in New York City’s immigration history.
From tea plants (the earliest cargo for nautical clippers traveling between the Americas, Asia, and Europe), to rice and millet (brought to the United States during the African diaspora, when captured slaves braided seeds into their hair to preserve their heritage), to the potato (which has South American origins and a role in Irish immigration to New York City) – these seeds and many others created a garden of transportation that reflected the diverse origins of our urban community.
The Wind and Waves installation was part of the Artport Residency, a program of Queens Council on the Arts. In a former newstand turned studio at the historic Marine Air Terminal (Terminal A) of LaGuardia Airport, the residency provides Queens-based artists with an incomparably unique venue for artistic exhibition and public engagement.
Wind and Waves allowed airport visitors to participate by sharing personal stories of plants and migration for incorporation into the project, and to witness the project’s creation and evolution over a three month residency period. The installation culminated in a public unveiling for the completed sculpture in which attendees clipped and planted seeds from the sculpture’s sails, with seedlings going to local community gardens.
Wind and Waves was developed as a part of the Artport Residency, a program of the Queens Council on the Arts’ Queens Art Fund that is supported in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Greater New York Arts Development Fund, in partnership with the NYC Council and in partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
Artist Brian Soliwoda expresses his gratitude to members of the public that shared their seed stories for inclusion in the project. The stories were collected from visitors to LaGuardia Airport’s Marine Air Terminal, from students of New York University’s Environmental Literature course, during the 2019 Seed Conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, and during the 2019 Queens Green Day at Socrates Sculpture Park. The stories and seeds were exhibited as part of the installation in a gallery space at the LaGuardia Airport studio through April 2019, followed by a 7-month regional tour in which the sculpture and the stories were exhibited at conferences, festivals, performances, and other events.
A selection of collected seed stories
Future of the Project
The Wind and Waves sculpture made its final appearance at Salt Tree Art’s Ecopolis Exhibition in November 2019. After the exhibition’s conclusion, the seeds from the sculpture were distributed to local gardeners for propagation, and the sculpture’s frame was composted for use as soil amendment at local community gardens.
The collected seed stories will be providing the foundation for a seed library concept project!