Exhibitions - The Worlds We Speak

Mariam Ghani
The Worlds We Speak

06.01.22 – Ongoing

Delta Air Lines x Queens Museum at LaGuardia Airport

A video thumbnail with a centered, black “press play” symbol in a green rounded off square. The thumbnail is of a blue-gradient tiled art installation, covered with six large multi-color circles. In front of the art installation a dark skinned man walks by.

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. 


The mural is composed of six spherical clusters, representing from left to right: Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, Manhattan, the Bronx, the greater tri-state metro area, and Staten Island. Each individual tile within the clusters refers to one linguistic community in that area, and is inscribed with an endonym – the name used by a community to refer to their own language in their own script. The sizes of circular tiles correspond to local speaking populations, while their colors represent language families. Curved “flight paths” connect several of the endonyms to words underneath the clusters, which indicate points of origin for those languages. Ghani’s mural emphasizes language’s ability to move beyond borders, and the wealth of knowledge that diversity brings to the city. 


The Delta x Queens Museum commissions at LaGuardia Airport is a partnership between the Queens Museum, Delta Air Lines, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.