Welcome HOME: Pink flamingo joins bevy of public art at Tampa International Airport

Tampa International Airport is home to an impressive and growing collection of diverse public art pieces that immerse visitors into the culture and history of the Tampa Bay Area. 

But few will touch the emotions the way the newest, HOME by Matthew Mazzotta, can. HOME is an immersive 22-foot-tall photorealistic flamingo portrayed dipping its head beneath the water’s surface in the Main Terminal of the airport. 

With more than 700 art proposals submitted from around the world, HOME stood out during the selection process due to its ability to connect with viewers. Chris Minner, Executive VP of Marketing and Communications at the Tampa International Airport, says HOME “immediately connects with people. And so, you're going to see it in their eyes. If you just hang out for 10 minutes, I guarantee you're going to see people really responding to it in a very emotional and really joyful way.” 

The steel, resin and fiberglass flamingo sculpture is an immersive installation. The installation of HOME revitalizes the space of the Main Terminal.
 
“Once installation is complete, you'll be able to walk right up to it. Hug it. Rub it for good luck. Take your picture with it. You can stand on the feet,” says Minner. 

HOME is not the only public art piece in the airport that is sure to draw gasps from viewers. When visitors enter the Blue Express Curbside Building, they can explore the flora and fauna of Florida within the glass mosaic Florida Sunset by Jason Middlebrook. The land where the Blue Express Curbside Building was built, originally was home to a garden of Floridian plant life. Tropicalismo Revisited by Catherine Wagner consists of 120 etched anodized aluminum panels that come together to create one large vibrant image of foliage. 

The SkyCenter atrium is home to Nebula by Soo Sunny Park. The radiant sculpture suspends from the ceiling and reflects natural light throughout the atrium. Nebula is a stainless steel and acrylic sculpture that brings elements of playfulness and serenity to the space.

When visitors enter the SkyConnect station at the Main Terminal they will be faced with the piece n + 1 by Ralph Helmick. This sculpture is a large turtle that is surrounded by thousands of tiny hatchlings that form a 25-feet-wide turtle. Visitors can view the turtle from below, or even meet it at eye level.
 
The public art program at Tampa International Airport goes back to when the airport opened in the 1970s. “The whole purpose of our public art program is to elevate the travel experience and to give those moments to just pause and take a breath while you're in the middle of hustling from maybe the ticket counters to the gate or you just landed and now you've got to regroup before you go to pick up your rental car,” says Minner.

The Tampa International Airport is home to talented artists from around the world, and the collection of pieces will continue to expand. As for the future of the public art program at the airport, Minner says, “I think that there's a lot more we can do to find ways to celebrate, especially as our local art community continues to grow in its stature to integrate more local artists in. And all those rich really, you know, cultural influences and the history of our region.”
 
More information regarding the public art program can be found here at this link. Join the public art mailing list for updates about the program.
 

Read more articles by Meghan Christopher.

Meghan Christopher is a graduating senior at the University of Tampa pursuing a degree in advertising and public relations. Originally from Palm Harbor, her dream job is to work for a public relations agency dedicated to social change. Meghan also is on the digital communications committee for PRSA Tampa Bay and currently works as a public relations intern for Lynn Public Relations. Meghan enjoys painting, spending time with friends, and finding new places to explore in the Tampa Bay Area.