The Queens Museum Celebrates Partnership With Delta Air Lines and Port Authority

for Commissioned Artworks by New York-Based Artists at Laguardia Airport’s New Terminal C

A two-story, vertical mural against a white marble wall. The mural is installed above a set of elevators, and between a set of escalators and a floor to ceiling window. The mural is made up of sixty, mixed-media, abstract portraits.


Governor Kathy Hochul, Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton, Delta Air Lines, and Queens Museum President and Executive Director Sally Tallant celebrated the inauguration of Delta’s new$4 billion Terminal C at LaGuardia Airport and the unveiling of permanent large-scale art installations throughout the terminal. 

This significant partnership marks a one-of-a-kind collaboration between a museum, artists, a major airline, and an airport coming together to elevate the travel experience through visual art. When complete, the six commissioned works by artists Mariam Ghani, Rashid Johnson, Aliza Nisenbaum, Virginia Overton, Ronny Quevedo, and Fred Wilson will be permanently on view. The works include sculptures and painted ceramic murals that span the building’s multi-floor, light-filled entry space and other areas throughout the Delta terminal. 

The artworks will welcome travelers in the Terminal’s arrivals and departures halls and associated concourse, and illustrate to visitors and residents alike why New York is the most exciting cultural destination in the world. The project supports the Port Authority’s overall vision and plan to transform the customer experience across all its facilities, including at LaGuardia airport through inspirational public art, operational excellence, 21st century technology and world-class functionality. 

“It has been wonderful for the Queens Museum to work in partnership with Delta Air Lines and Port Authority on this long-term project. Commissioning permanent artworks by this incredible group of New York-based artists is an exciting way for the Museum to play a part in making the new Terminal C a world-class cultural destination” said Tallant. 

Additional information on the commissioned artworks: 

  • Mariam Ghani’s The Worlds We Speak visualizes the linguistic diversity of the tri-state metropolitan area as a colorful mosaic of handmade ceramic tiles. For this commission, Ghani partnered with the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), an organization that documents and promotes the diversity of languages spoken in New York City and beyond. The artist used data from ELA’s “NYC Language Map” to spotlight the over 700 languages and dialects spoken in the regions most served by LaGuardia Airport.  
  • In “The Travelers” Broken Crowd, Rashid Johnson’s largest mural to date, he arranges sixty portraits in a grid format: some faces are obscured by sections of black wax and paint, while others are highlighted by jagged clusters of colorful tile and mirror fragments. The vibrant hum of the group reflects the energy and thrill of travel, while their direct gazes hint at the collective anxieties and concerns that connect all communities. The mural invites airport visitors to take a moment to reflect and “wander” in unexpected directions.   
  • Aliza Nisenbaum’s mural, The Ones who Make it Run (Delta Terminal C, LaGuardia Airport), focuses on sixteen Delta and Port Authority employees as well as their service providers, among the many thousands who keep the terminal running smoothly each day. The painting includes pilots, flight attendants, police officers, firefighters, customer service agents, Urban Pathways staff (homeless outreach), taxi dispatchers, and individuals working in facilities and maintenance. Together, these employees represent the strength and diversity of the Delta and Port Authority community.
  • For Skylight Gems, Virginia Overton repurposed salvaged skylight sections from junkyards and constructed matching halves to create new, enclosed structures illuminated from within. These jewels, suspended from each of the atrium’s three levels, are visible to travelers throughout the terminal. Conveying strength and delicacy, solidity and ephemerality, Overton’s gems celebrate the ingenuity of New York City’s architecture, while also capturing the excitement that travel—and the moment of arrival—inspires in both residents and tourists alike
  • The gymnasium flooring in Ronny Quevedo’s Pacha Cosmopolitanism Overtime is a direct reference to soccer, the spirited games of Quevedo’s youth, and the thriving sports culture that connects travelers globally. Quevedo’s commission is an homage to the diverse communities that call New York City home, honoring their resilience amid new and changing circumstances. 
  • Fred Wilsons monumental work Mother incorporates black starlight globes and droplets, which he calls ‘drips.’ Wilson was inspired by his own experience while traveling via airplane: with the world below reduced to small dots, he reflected on humanity’s complex and enriching relationship with the earth. For Mother, Wilson has removed country names from the globes, instead using swatches of vibrant colors to distinguish land masses. Stripped of their use as maps or geographical aids, the globes illustrate instead how interconnected communities are today both locally and internationally. 

The 1.2 million square foot Terminal C at LaGuardia represents a major and historic step forward in the building of a whole new LaGuardia Airport. Delta Air Lines’ $4 billion redevelopment project, which broke ground in 2017, replaces the outdated Terminals C and D with a state-of-the-art new Terminal C. A key feature of the new terminal is that all 37 gates will be accessible through a single arrivals and departures hall rather than divided between the two structures it will replace. The opening of Delta’s new arrivals and departures hall also includes the opening of a 230,000 square foot concourse accommodating 10 new gates and featuring well known eateries and shops. 

Artworks by artists Mariam Ghani, Rashid Johnson, Virginia Overton and Ronny Quevedo are now officially open to the public. Pieces by Aliza Nisenbaum and Fred Wilson are currently under construction and set to be finalized by early Fall. 

Read “Ready When You Are, Terminal C Is Now an Art Destination” by Hilarie M. Sheets to learn more about these commissions.

Click here to watch the six commissioned artists share more about the works on view.

About the LaGuardia Redevelopment Project

The LaGuardia project is the first new major airport built in the United States in the last 25 years. In 2015, a comprehensive plan to construct a whole new LaGuardia Airport was unveiled with the goal of creating a world-class, 21st century passenger experience featuring modern customer amenities, state-of-the-art architecture, more spacious gate areas and a unified terminal system. The $8 billion project, two-thirds of which is funded through private financing and existing passenger fees, broke ground in 2016.  

The project is demolishing virtually every passenger facility and building new 21st century world class facilities. LaGuardia has remained open throughout the construction period. The new airport is being built in phases to ensure that the airport never loses capacity. New facilities had to be built before old facilities could be demolished to enable the airport to continue to operate at full capacity.

In February 2018, the new Terminal B parking garage opened with over 3,000 spaces and a dedicated level for Uber, Lyft and other for-hire car services. In December 2018, the first of 18 new gates and the first new concourse in Terminal B opened. In October 2019, Delta Air Lines opened its first new concourse and seven new gates. In June 2020, the new Arrivals and Departures Hall at Terminal B opened. In January 2022, the airport celebrated the opening of Terminal B’s second new concourse and second new pedestrian skybridge marking the completion of Terminal B.  

Major construction milestones now shift to the east end of the airport. In addition to offering state-of-the-art-technology and world-class amenities, Delta’s new Terminal C, like Terminal B, will feature inspiring public art that will tell the story of New York’s immigrant history, its people and the importance of celebrating diversity. The art program at Terminal C is the result of a collaboration between Delta Air Lines and the Queens Museum, and it will include the work of six world-renowned, New York-based artists. 

LaGuardia Airport will be substantially complete in 2022 and will be an asset for growth as New York recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Featured Image: Justin Kaneps for The New York Times.