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Memphis International Airport Seeks Suspended Sculpture for Renovated Concourse

Posted by UrbanArt Commission ; Posted on 
Public Art; Visual - DEADLINE :  
Memphis International Airport Seeks Suspended Sculpture for Renovated Concourse




The Memphis International Airport is being reimagined as the facility undergoes an important renovation. A dramatic enhancement of the B concourse is currently underway, and will be completed by April 2021. UrbanArt Commission (UAC) is partnering with the Memphis Shelby County Airport Authority (MSCAA) to produce a large-scale, suspended sculpture in the southeast area of the redesigned Concourse B.

Budget: $345,500 total: $81,875 for artist design/coordination fees and $259,125 for fabrication and installation.
Eligibility: Professional artists based in the United States
Deadline: 04/06/2020

Full RFQ and project visuals are available here.

Project Background
Memphis’s aviation industry dates back to 1927, when city Mayor Watkins Overton formed the Municipal Airport Planning Commission. The Commission broke ground on a 200-acre tract of open countryside seven miles from Downtown, and the Memphis Municipal Airport opened for regular passenger and mail service in 1929. The current terminal, a modern design by architect Roy P. Harrover, was dedicated in 1963. The growing facility changed its name to Memphis International Airport, and in 1974, the building expanded into its current configuration.

The renovated concourse B pays homage to Harrover’s mid-century modern design, with sweeping vaulted ceilings and minimalist furniture, along with updates like larger windows, natural wood accent walls, and a contemporary color palette. This modernization will provide visitors and Memphians alike with an inviting experience, and a taste of what Memphis has to offer.

As part of the overall reimagining of the airport, $1.5 million has been allocated to produce new site-specific public art projects at key locations throughout the facility. These projects include a large suspended sculpture, a permanent exhibition of 2D work by local artists, and three art glass installations. This call is for the suspended sculpture.

Project Description
The selection committee expresses an interest in a public art piece that will:

  • Create a bold, statement project that will draw airport users through the facility
  • Respond to the aesthetic of the reinvented concourse, which features warm tones and natural wood, light and sophisticated, minimalist contemporary furniture, vaulted angular ceilings, and natural light from long curtain-wall windows

The commissioned artist/s will be expected to engage with the local artist community at some point during the design or fabrication process to share their experience executing this project and artistic practice. Possible engagement opportunities could include a public talk, a site visit during installation, and/or participation in the creation of behind-the-scenes videos. The UAC team will support and facilitate this opportunity in collaboration with the selected artist.

Artwork Location Description
The project site is located at the southeast end of the new concourse, and serves as the focal point for the renovated facility. The sculpture will also be visible from the exterior of the concourse to arriving and departing passengers. The space can accommodate a low-profile hanging sculpture(s). The available area is approximately 40’ wide by 260’ long by 5’ high. The sculpture(s) will be suspended from the structure above the ceiling by steel cables. Exact weight requirements and anchor locations will be discussed with finalists; artists are advised to consider lightweight materials for this project.

Information Session

UAC will host an information session for artists interested in learning more about this project: Wednesday, March 11, 5:30 – 7 PM, UAC offices, 422 N. Cleveland St., Memphis, TN.

Artists may also schedule a meeting with UAC staff to review their application and portfolio. Appointments are available Wednesday, March 26 between 3 and 7 PM.  Contact A.M. O’Malley-Miller at 901.881.8205 or to schedule a meeting during that time or if alternate times are needed or if artists are not based in Memphis.


  • Monday, February 24, 2020: RFQ released
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2020 (5:30 – 7 pm local time): Information session hosted by UAC
  • Thursday, March 26, 2019 (3 – 7 pm local time): Office Hours hosted by UAC
  • Monday, April 6, 2020: RFQ deadline
  • Friday, April 25, 2020: Notify finalists of RFP invitation
  • Monday, June 1, 2020: RFP deadline
  • Week of June 1, 2020: Finalist presentations to the committee
  • September 2020: Final designs complete
  • April 2021: Installation complete

Selection Process
Each finalist will be asked to prepare a schematic design, followed by a presentation to the artist selection committee. Each finalist will receive a $1,500 honorarium for an original design developed specifically for the site. One of three finalist positions will be reserved for a Memphis-based artist.

Selection Criteria

The artist selection committee will select three finalists based on their applications, professional qualifications, ability to work within a budget, ability to meet deadlines, and experience completing previous public art projects. Artists with limited experience creating large-scale public art projects are advised to consider applying with a team to provide skills or experience not demonstrated by an artist’s portfolio. The commissioned artist/s will be selected based on the strength of their proposal following RFP invitation, and previous experience with the design of large-scale sculpture projects. Applicants are expected to have the technical capabilities to design and install such projects, which includes managing subcontractors and providing maintenance instructions for the completed piece. The finished project should require little to no regular maintenance. The artist/s selected shall be expected to collaborate closely with engineers, architects, airport administration, and any other necessary parties for the successful installation of the project. Please note that commissioned artists are permitted to work with outside contractors to fabricate and install the actual work of art.

UAC is committed to equity and inclusion in our work, both in the artists and organizations supported through the development of public art. People of color, differently-abled persons, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+, seniors, and women are strongly encouraged to apply.

What to Submit

  1. A typed letter explaining your interest in the project and your general approach/concept to its design and production. Please do not submit design proposals at this point.
  2. Up to 20 images of past work including the title of work, date, medium, budget and project partners, if any.
  3. Résumé, not to exceed 2 pages.
  4. List of three professional references, including current phone and email.

How to Submit

Complete applicant’s materials should be uploaded via the UAC Submittable website only. Hardcopy packets, digital files, and CD-ROMs will not be accepted.

If you already have a Submittable account, click the Have an account? Sign in tab to sign in to your account. If you don’t remember your password, use the Forgot? link on the login form.

If you don’t have a Submittable account, you must create one to apply. Create your free account by filling out the Create your account form. Fill in all information and click the Create Account and Continue button to continue with the submission process.

From there, you will be able to complete and submit your application. You can now use this account login when submitting to all future UAC opportunities. Once you have submitted your application, you will receive a confirmation email that confirms receipt of your full application.

QUESTIONS?  Contact Wendy Young, Program Manager, 901.343.6983 or


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