Constance White, art program manager for the San Diego International Airport (SDIA) has helped transform the busy local terminals into unexpected places for really cool art.
Since taking the position in 2006, White's been responsible for the airport's temporary and rotating exhibits, an ongoing performance-art series and both large- and small-scale public-art installations. On Aug. 8, she'll leave the airport. At the start of September, she'll assume her new role as vice president for public art at the Arts & Science Council, where she'll lead public-art programs for the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Mecklenburg County.
"It's just a life-changing opportunity," White said, talking about the new gig at a small goodbye-gathering with coworkers at the airport. "I've enjoyed the job and you all immensely."
With White at the helm, SDIA has given local and international artists interesting opportunities. Sheryl Oring's residency at the airport culminated in a public performance inviting passersby to share their travel stories via vintage typewriters. Jim Campbell's 700-foot-long LED-light installation works to counter travel anxiety by lighting the form of birds gracefully flying overhead. Norie Sato's recently completed "Reflection Room" installation is a peaceful, artful sanctuary for those wanting to escape the hustle-bustle. Miki Iwasaki's two sculptural installations are sophisticated examples of some of the best work being created in San Diego. And that's just a small sampling—the recently completed expansion of the airport's Terminal 2 saw the addition of more than 10 pieces of public art, which White oversaw.
"She's irreplaceable in regard to her ability to navigate so many different levels and strata of art politics," Iwasaki said of White's impact. "The administration, artists' personalities—the whole thing—I haven't seen anybody navigate the process as well as she has."
White says she's confident that the caliber of public art at the airport will be maintained.
"I just wrote an interim plan for eight projects," she said. "We have another $5 million worth of projects, so it certainly can continue in the same vein."