More Than Meets the Eye: Tri-Cities Airport Highlights Regional Culture With Local Art

Don’t have a few minutes to read the full story? Listen to an abridged feature as heard on NewsRadio 610 KONA!

(Pasco, WA) — Admittedly, airports are not one of the first places people tend to look for cultural experiences, but a glance around your local flight hub might surprise you. Amid all the hustle and bustle of TSA checkpoints, flight departures and other hoopla, many travelers probably never notice the handcrafted artwork that exists inside the Tri-Cities Airport (PSC).

Have you ever observed the line drawings etched onto the walls of the terminal building, or that the floor tiles are colored and arranged in a way that replicates a top-down view of the Columbia and Snake Rivers? What about the local imagery printed on the glass barrier between security and departures?

Three large wall exhibits are also displayed in plain sight. The first space is located between the main entrance and baggage claim. The other two are behind the security checkpoint across from the flight gates. One is down the hall to the left of the dining section near where most Delta flights depart, and one is to the right in the Alaska Airlines section.

The airport has an art committee that oversees the various installations. Every year, committee members consider submissions from local artists to fill the three locations. This year, the committee worked with some local indigenous communities to curate the most recent displays themed “We Were, We Are, and We Will Be”.

“We decided to reach out to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation…the Umatillas got back to us and put is in touch with the Tamástclikt Cultural Institute. That started the process of what we’ve got in the terminal now,” says Airport Manager Buck Taft.

Each of the three images represents an actual exhibit at the institution.

“We Were” reflects on stories told by the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla. Viewers can scan a QR code with their smart phones to hear a recreation of the 1855 Treaty Council of Walla Walla in the native language.
“We Are” reminds viewers that indigenous peoples are not simply to be learned about in history books; there are Native Americans actively serving leaders in the military, government, trade, and environmental stewardship.
“We Will Be” emphasizes both aspirations and concerns for indigenous communities moving forward. It highlights the balance of planning for the future while still healing from disruptions of the not-so-distant past.

Michelle Liberty handles public relations and marketing for Tamástclikt Cultural Institute. “We are contemporary people. We’re not just how we were in the past. Things evolve and change in our culture as well as outside,” She remarked after helping facilitate the installations at the airport. “These three displays serve as an introduction; hopefully they motivate people to want to know more about the tribes,”.

If you do want to know more, Liberty suggests visiting the Institute on Wildhorse Boulevard in Pendleton, or the museum website. Local artists interested in future display opportunities at Tri-Cities Airport can contact the airport business manager at (509) 547-6352 or [email protected].

So, next time you’ve got a layover, consider pausing for a moment. Look and listen closely; you may find that, like PSC, many airports are home to uniquely regional sculpture, architecture, photography, illustration, and sound.

Source: 610KONA