Matthew Mazzotta (SMVisS ’09) – New Commission at Tampa International Airport

Matthew Mazzotta, HOME. Commissioned by the Tampa International Airport, 2020.
ACT at MIT

Artist Matthew Mazzotta (SMVisS ’09) was commissioned by the Tampa International Airport to create a new work: A 21-foot pink flamingo that will greet visitors passing through the Airport’s Main Terminal.

The larger-than-life sculpture is one of seven new art commissions approved by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority Board on Thursday as part of a public art program designed to enhance and beautify TPA’s new facilities.

HOME, by Matthew Mazzotta, is a massive, floor-to-ceiling sculpture that depicts a hand-sculpted resin and fiberglass flamingo as it gently dips its head beneath the surface of the water. The immersive installation, located prominently near the Shoppes at Bayshore, transports viewers underwater, inviting them to walk up and share a simple moment in the life of one of Florida’s most well-known birds.

The sculpture is expected to be installed in November.

“I think we will find that HOME is aptly named as it will evoke a sense of place for those that experience the artwork,” said Robin Nigh, the City of Tampa’s Manager of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and a member of TPA’s Public Art Committee. “The artwork should provide a visual respite; a sense of home for returning travelers and a sense of arrival for visitors. It is unique, quiet, beautiful, kitsch and fun all at once. HOME will carry the meaning of what individuals bring to it, very much like one’s ‘real’ home.”

Tampa Airport’s public art program strives to transform and enhance the experience of millions of guests each and every year.

“We are more than a place that people simply pass through – we are the first and last impression of the Tampa Bay region,” said Airport CEO Joe Lopano. “Public art is critical to creating a sense of place and leaving our guests with a unique and engaging experience.”

The seven art commissions approved by the Board were selected from 734 total respondents, including many local, national and international artists. Select artists were then shortlisted and invited to submit a proposal for a specific location. The Public Art Committee then presented its final recommendations to the Board.

Two additional commissions will be considered by the Board at a later date.

“The artists selected for the second phase of art commissions continues a commitment to bring the highest quality of artistic excellence and experience to airport visitors,” said Margaret Miller, Director and Professor of the USF Institute for Research in Art and a member of the Airport’s Public Art Committee. “Tampa International Airport demonstrates the value of public art in creating a world-class city.”

Executive Vice President of Marketing Chris Minner, who also sits on the Public Art Committee, says he thinks these works will make TPA’s new spaces distinctive and memorable.

“Every airport has terminals, seating, gates and travelers – and every airport functions as a gateway,” said Minner. “But how this initial experience happens – how it feels during those welcomes and goodbyes – is what elevates our shared experience and invites our travelers to become true representatives of our region.”

The other winning artists include:

  • Soo Sunny Park, of Hanover, N.H., who will produce a hanging sculpture in the new SkyCenter atrium.
  • Jason Hackenwerth, of St. Petersburg, Fla., who is creating a hanging sculpture entitled Cove for the third and fourth floor of the SkyCenter Atrium.
  • Jason Bruges, of London, England, who is creating a mixed media mural entitled Cloud Ascent to adorn the east wall of the red vertical circulation building.
  • Catherine Wagner, of Oakland, C.A., who is creating a large mural featuring photos that are laser-etched onto anodized aluminum panels, for the northwest wall of the blue vertical circulation building.
  • Jason Middlebrook, of Hudson, N.Y., who is producing a mural featuring a composition of local flora and fauna, for the northwest wall of the blue vertical circulation building.
  • Aaron Stephan, of Portland, Maine, who created a hanging sculpture out of ladders entitled Paths Rising, for the Main Terminal helix space between the Main Terminal and SkyConnect station.

Mazzotta works at the intersection of art, activism, and urbanism, focusing on the power of the built environment to shape our relationships and experiences. His community-specific public projects integrate new forms of civic participation and social engagement into the built environment and reveal how the spaces we travel through and spend our time living within have the potential to become distinct sites for intimate, radical, and meaningful exchanges. Through his process, each project starts by creating temporary public spaces for listening – ‘Outdoor Living Room’ – as a way to capture voices from local people that might not attend more formal meetings.