New airport art proclaims all are welcome in sanctuary cities Minneapolis and St. Paul

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Terminal 2 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport just got a little bit more colorful with a trio of pieces by Hopkins artist Philip Noyed.

The airport recently unveiled Noyed’s large-scale installations, the first of their scale to be commissioned in 15 years. You’ll have to check them out next time you’re flying Sun Country, Southwest, Icelandair, or Condor.

The three works share a common feature: a rainbow of colors. “I wanted to show that anybody of any race, nationality, religious background, or sexual orientation are welcome in Minnesota,” Noyed says.

For example, in the work titled L'Etoile du Nord (Star of the North), “I wanted it to have a stronger meaning than just a star,” he says. “I wanted people when they came in from a different country to know that their rights are respected.”

The piece, which is six feet tall, is made of aluminum and covered with holographic vinyl. Inside, there’s a crystal prism that creates tiny rainbows on the ground beneath it.

Another work, Leap of Joy, also employs a rainbow of colors, and features a person jumping into the air. The race and gender of the figure are not specified.

Noyed responded to a request for proposals (RFP) for the project, to which he identified the challenge of being in an airport. “People are stressed out. The architecture is functional, but it’s not very inspiring,” Noyed says. “I wanted the art to activate the space, to bring in bright colors, and allow people to really enjoy looking at the work.”

Noyed wasn’t sure what he’d do for the third installation -- until he visited the space where it would be placed. When he saw the 25-foot-long wall where his art would live, he realized he needed to go big. “I wanted to do something that would reach into the sky,” Noyed says.

This is Noyed’s biggest public commission to date, though he’s had experience doing large-scale projects before. In 2015, he created a series of Rainbow Pyramids for Northern Spark, which were also shown at the American Swedish Institute, at the Depot, and at Art Miami.

“It’s really a joy to work at a grand scale,” he says. However, installing the work in the airport was no easy task. Not only did he have to go through security every day, he couldn’t start working until 9 p.m. at night. He’d work until 3 in the morning. “I was a pretty tired guy,” he says. adding that he ended up having to take some time off from his day job.

Now that the work is up, Noyed enjoys hearing from friends who see the three pieces in Terminal 2 as part of the new H gate expansion. “I have friends now that take Sun Country just so they can see my artwork,” he says. “I’m the unofficial ambassador of Minnesota.”


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