Student Art on Display at Dulles Airport. Art for Art's Sake? No.

By Office of Community Relations
February 02, 2024

David, a senior who attends South Lakes High School, created and submitted to the Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards competition. He describes his art as a “diversionary” piece. 

It’s an award winner, and now a reproduction hangs at Dulles International Airport

At first glance, the image seems orderly. A person, head in hand, at a desk thinking. Like many work spaces, there’s an adjustable lamp, a brightly lit computer screen, and entering the room are a fair amount of light and art piece depicting a man sitting at a desk with his head in his hands.

But take a closer look. Is the worker thinking or bothered? Are they actually there, in the room? Notice the orderly file drawer left hanging — out of order. What about the wads of writing paper strewn about the floor and desk. There’s something red splattered on the walls.  

Is this order, disorder, or worse?  We asked David. 

Westfield High School senior Joleigh’s piece was equally honored and also hangs at Dulles. The difficulties and confusion of pandemic life in her art is not masked — though it is. Joleigh took an “in your face” approach to expressing the challenges of the pandemic on her and her generation. Colorful signs with poignant messaging leave little to the imagination, and that’s the point — the background. An art piece depicting a teenager wearing a mask with cautionary signs in the background.

But the juxtaposition of background to foreground, as Joleigh describes it, is what stands out and is almost missing, at once.  

Hear Joleigh explain her piece. 

While diminishing, the challenges of the pandemic continue for many of us. For David and Joleigh however, having their award-winning art displayed publicly, where the potential of 35,000 daily airport visitors can see and enjoy it, serves as a unique pandemic antidote.

Fairfax County Public Schools would like to thank the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for the partnership, which includes the Youth Art Walk, for lifting students. 

Lifting others is the value of partnership.

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