Airports in the 21st century have become destinations in and of themselves, hosting gourmet restaurants, spas, and yes, even mini art exhibits. Even so, for those looking for things to do in Atlanta airport, you might be surprised to learn that an exhibit of Zimbabwean art is one of your options.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a red eye flight home from a trade show in Phoenix. (It seemed like a much better idea when I booked it.) It left me with a nearly four hour layover early in the morning, waiting for the first flight of the morning that would take me home to Daytona Beach.
I decided to wander the airport a bit in search of coffee. While I was waiting for my train to switch concourses, I noticed something down the tunnel to one side. I walked down to take a look and was surprised to find an exhibit of 20 sculptures by Zimbabwean artists. I knew there were things to do in Atlanta airport that included art. But I didn’t expect a sculpture exhibit!
Getting to the Exhibit
To find it, just take the train to Concourse A, and then take a walk towards Terminal T. After only a few feet, you’ll forget you’re in one of the world’s busiest airports. (Well, almost.)
Need to Know for visiting “Zimbabwe Sculpture: A Tradition in Stone”
Location: Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport (pedestrian tunnel between Concourse A & Terminal T)
Hours: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Admission: Free (But visiting requires a boarding pass, since the exhibit is past security.)
Learn more about the exhibit at this archive which contains photos of the sculptures along with the text of their plaques.
The setting for this display of amazing art, in the pedestrian tunnel between the A and T concourses at Atlanta-Hartsfield, is somewhat incongruous. To me, art is something to be savored, absorbed, and appreciated. The pedestrian tunnel is a place of transit. Everyone’s purpose for being there was to get somewhere else as fast as possible. No one was pausing to enjoy and appreciate the display. In fact, I got several odd looks because I was pausing, instead of rushing on my way somewhere.
Many travelers rushed past the exhibit without a glance, but they didn’t know what they were passing up. These sculptures exude grace, passion, strength, and many other emotions, despite being carved from stone.
The Zimbabwean sculpture exhibit is as educational as it is beautiful, because each sculpture’s base has an informational plaque. Each contains the artist’s biography plus a brief explanation of their art. The curator crammed a lot of information into these small spaces!
The exhibit appears cohesive in many ways due to similar materials and techniques used, but it showcases a variety of Zimbabwean sculpture artists.
The piece above, by Gladman Zinyeka, is named “Who Will Raise The Child”. Zinyeka sculpted it as a moving portrayal of the effect of AIDS in Africa, and the devastation on its families.
This elegant piece by Joe Mutasa stands proud as the tallest sculpture in the Atlanta Airport exhibit of Zimbabwean art. In “Protected Family”, a gentle hand holds and protects a mother, father, and child.
Lameck Bonjisi sculpted “Caring Mother” from Green Serpentine stone. The rich green stone work stands out from many of the more grey Springstone artworks in the exhibit. This beautiful mother, with her hair made by a natural inclusion in the stone, holds her children close.
Next time you are looking for things to do in Atlanta airport, consider taking some time to learn about and enjoy some beautiful sculptures. It’s an unforgettable experience!