Public Art Fund Talks: Layqa Nuna Yawar and Karyn Olivier

Wednesday, February 1, 2023, 6:30 - 8pm

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Layqa Nuna's mural Between the Future Past

Layqa Nuna Yawar. Between the Future Past, 2021-22. Acrylic paint and inkjet print on fabric mounted to aluminum panel. 18’h x 350’ w. Commissioned by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Munich Airport NJ, in partnership with Public Art Fund. Photo: Zack DeZon, courtesy Public Art Fund, NY.

On February 1, join artists Layqa Nuna Yawar and Karyn Olivier for a free artist talk with Nicholas Baume, Artistic & Executive Director of Public Art Fund. The discussion will center on Layqa Nuna Yawar’s Between the Future Past (2021-22) and Karyn Olivier’s Approach (2022), two monumental, site-specific works recently created for the new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport. Both artworks serve as love letters to New Jersey and pay homage to its local heroes and unique geography.

Join Virtually: Register to receive a link and watch the program live streamed. 

Join In-person at The Cooper Union’s Frederick P. Rose Auditorium: Registration is required. Attendees must show proof of vaccination. Masks are encouraged. 

Public Art Fund Talks are presented in partnership with The Cooper Union.

Layqa Nuna Yawar’s vibrant mural, Between the Future Past, spans 350 feet of the terminal’s walkway and celebrates the abundant diversity of Newark, New Jersey, and the New York Metropolitan Area. Reimagining the format of a historical mural, Layqa Nuna Yawar’s artwork reflects a continuous cyclical pattern of time which embraces past, present and future. Drawing on his indigenous heritage and Kichwa language, he sees the artwork as “a looped narrative that can be read from right to left and left to right.” From airport workers to poets to LGBTQ+ heroes, Layqa Nuna Yawar’s mural rethinks who should be celebrated publicly, proposing that all individuals are equally remarkable in their humanity. People brought by successive waves of global migration, including those from Black, Brown, Asian, and Middle Eastern backgrounds, as well as Indigenous people, are represented in his expansive vision. The artist included flora and fauna, such as The New Jersey state flower and birds native to the New Jersey area’s marshlands, as symbols of growth. The portraits highlight narratives of personal accomplishment and perseverance that have often been overlooked.

Capturing the extraordinary scenery of New Jersey’s iconic skylines, robust infrastructure, and natural beauty, Karyn Olivier’s Approach is a photographic survey of Newark and the surrounding region. Cascading from the departures level to the arrivals hall, this two-part, 50-foot, double-sided suspended sculpture can be viewed from above or below. When looking up at the suspended circular forms, a bird’s eye view is visible; and when looking down from above, a skyward view. One sculpture features daytime images; the other nighttime. As passengers approach the sculptures, the rings begin to align concentrically, revealing a rich topographical mosaic. This inversion echoes the temporary disorientation as well as the new perceptions that air travel can provide. The artwork may even appear to move, compressing or expanding as our view shifts. The result is a dynamic study of both landscape and time, two elements that define our unique experience of place.

The artworks by Layqa Nuna Yawar and Karyn Olivier are commissioned by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and Munich Airport NJ, in partnership with Public Art Fund.

About the Talks 

Public Art Fund Talks, organized in collaboration with The Cooper Union, connect compelling contemporary artists to a broad public by establishing a dialogue about artistic practices and public art. The Talks series features internationally renowned artists who offer insights into artmaking and its personal, social, and cultural contexts. The core values of creative expression and democratic access to culture and learning shared by both Public Art Fund and The Cooper Union are embodied in this ongoing collaboration. In the spirit of accessibility to the broadest and most diverse public, the Talks are offered free of charge.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.