It’s a bird, it’s a plane . . . it’s a giant art installation in Terminal 1!

International artist Jen Lewin, selected to create a new large-scale installation at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s Terminal 1, is in Minneapolis for the next two days, soliciting feedback and inspiration from Minnesotans for her forthcoming sculpture, slated for completion in December 2020.

The sculpture will go from the baggage claim level, between claims 4-6, to the first floor in the renovated Terminal 1 building.

At last night’s event, the first of the three sessions, Sandy Nichols, co-owner of the art/artisan store Jaguar Blu in Stillwater, drove in for the presentation. Originally from Illinois, she heard about the event through Facebook.

“I travel a lot,” Nichols said. She was particularly moved by the “light we have here in Minnesota,” noting that it would be “awesome for Jen’s work.”

Lewin, whose work focuses on light to create interactive spaces and surprising, community-oriented experiences, has installed work all over the world. She is most inspired by nature, something that she finds in abundance in Minnesota. (Her husband, Bill, is actually from Ham Lake.)

One of Lewin’s most popular pieces, “Pool,” a traveling installation of circular, cell-looking, pods placed in outdoor settings, that change color as people jump and play on them, has traveled the world over. She was inspired by a backpacking trip  to Australia when she was 19.

“I was camping in a place where the tide comes in and out over 14 miles, and it had come in and left these tide pools all around and it was night, and the stars were out and I was surrounded by these perfect, reflecting pools of light,” she said on stage, while flipping through slides. “I left saying, ‘I have to make an art piece that captures this moment.'”

Audience member Christian Schutz also discovered the event through Facebook. He was most interested in the aspects of light. “I am friends with a light artist in Portland,” said Schutz, who sported a Prince pin on his shirt. He noted that this sculpture “could be a real signature piece for the airport.”



One of the audience-participation activities at these meetings is asking people what Minnesota in each season makes them think of. Some folks present, like committee member and MSP Art Director Robyne Robinson, mused about winter in Minnesota, the season that usually "keeps the bad people out," as Prince famously said once.

“The thrill of ice shanties, of visiting them at night,” said Robinson, as if she were magically teleported to a Minnesota winter.  

The next two sessions will be held on Fri., June 8, 6-8 p.m. at the Weisman Art Museum, William Shepard Room (333 E. River Rd., Mpls) and Sat., June 9, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Best Buy Theater (84 Church St. SE., Mpls). They are free and open to the public.