If you travel a lot like I do you’ve probably experience that split second of confusion getting off an airplane. That moment when you think “Where am I and which airport is this again?” I mean they all start to look a look alike – gray walls, blue carpets, big glass windows and lots of people. If you’ve been immersed in a book, work or sleep for the last three hours and only fed pretzels and diet soda it’s easy to forget where you are.
Some airports try to spruce things up with scattered art or colorful tile murals, but it’s really nothing that catches the imagination. I recently made a trip to a large convention in Atlanta. Now, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is not my favorite airport. It’s bigger than big, busy and crowded. And it seems to be perpetually under construction.
I typically take the underground tram to baggage claim. Usually an overcrowded mode of transportation where you have to jostle with other passengers just to find a spot to brace yourself for the jerky stop-and-start-ride. Instead, this time I decided to walk. Well, I didn’t really “decide” to walk. I got off too early because the electronic signage on the tram wasn’t working. But, my mistake actually turned into an unexpectedly pleasant detour.
Between T gates and concourse A I stumbled upon a gem of a little art exhibit. Doing some quick research later I found that it’s called “Zimbabwe Sculpture: A Tradition in Stone.” According to the airport website it’s a permanent collection of 20 contemporary stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. Most of the pieces are large with simple lines and varying textures. The artist do all of the work by hand – no power tools allowed – and then they hand sand and polish selected areas.
The themes are universal with an emphasis on family, women, children and nature. I am not an art critic. I appreciate it, but I really don’t know what I am talking about. All I can say is that these pieces made me stop and look. I appreciated the size and simplicity of them and the feelings that each sculpture evoked. The photos I took don’t do the works justice. (Did I mention that I also have no background in photography?) I think you have to see these pieces for yourself.
So, I appreciate the airport’s efforts to make my journey a little more inviting. It was a short respite, but fully appreciated. I have a much better feeling for one of the busiest, if not the busiest, airport in the world. Of course, the new free WIFI didn’t hurt.
Have you had the same experience? Let me know if you have run into any unexpected pleasant surprises during your travels through airports.