A bright-colored grid of St. Louis City streets and the flowing lines of the Missouri River watershed now greet thousands of travelers at St. Louis Lambert International Airport (STL) as part of two new murals at the Terminal 2 Baggage Claim.
The murals cover both sides of Carousels 1 and 2 and stretch as long as 40 feet and will welcome more than 5 million passengers over the next 18 months. They were commissioned by the Lambert Art & Culture Program with support from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission
St. Louis artist Megan Singleton created "Ebb and Flow IV" at Carousel 2. Her work interprets USDA geospatial data of the Lower Missouri River watershed, which encompasses the area near the Airport. Singleton used pulp paper to mimic the lines of the watershed, which creates a dynamic relief along the wall. The opposite wall displays a series of botanical drawings of native Missouri aquatic plants. The drawings were laser cut from handmade paper, made from the very plants that the cut out drawings depict.
Singleton focuses much of her work on the investigation of ecological relationships within society and the landscape. She’s interested in the intersection of dendritic systems, patterns that are found in waterway, plants, and intersecting paths of travel. “I hope to inspire individuals and communities to care for and foster the growth and revitalization of their landscapes and natural systems,” Singleton said. “This project creates an opportunity for me to create a highly visible unique work of art using handmade paper created from local plant material, which will have the potential to inform and inspire visitors as well as those who call Saint Louis home.”
St. Louis artist Ellie Balk installed "Alight on St. Louis" at Carousel 1 over a period of 10 nights. That’s because Balk, and couple of assistants, hand-painted the carousel walls with some 30 different colors- bright yellow, deep purple to accents of pink and orange, just to name a few. The mural is an abstract map drawn from the street grid of a section of St. Louis City, but from a slight bird's-eye perspective. It gives the viewers the feeling of soaring over St. Louis in a plane.
“It looks like what you would see outside of the window seat,” Balk said. “I created the piece as one large map, and then it’s wrapped around the carousel, which evokes that action of walking around and seeing the whole thing, because it’s all connected.”
Balk’s work centers on mathematics and data visualization. Through color and abstraction, she creates systems to tell information. Ellie is inspired by the data to ignite investigation and interaction. The works look formally abstract, but with examination they reveal information that can be "read" by the viewer.
Megan Singleton and Ellie Balk were selected to create the murals through a “Call to Artists” overseen by the Airport’s seven-member Airport Art Advisory Committee. Current members are Lisa Cakmak, Associate Curator of Ancient Art at Saint Louis Art Museum; Ellen Gale, Executive Director Clayton Chamber of Commerce; Shelley Hagan, Wells Fargo Curator Corporate Art; Leslie Markle, Curator of Public Art, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum; Kiku Obata, Founding Principal of Kiku Obata & Co.; Roseann Weiss, Director of Community and Public Arts for the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission; and Carlos Zamora, Creative Director at Express Scripts.