CSUB artist's display at airport

January 18, 2007
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu

Joyce Kohl, a fine arts professor at California State University, Bakersfield, has a permanent spot at Bakersfield's William M. Thomas Air Terminal.

Of course you won't find Kohl herself there, but you will find a piece of art that will remain a part of the airport.

Kohl's mobile is one of many artworks that the Meadows Field public art program has added to the airport. The art program is hoping to showcase the diversity of Bakersfield through different artists' work. "It gives first-time (Bakersfield) travelers a sense of where they have flown in to," said Teresa Hitchcock, analysis and marketing manager for Meadows Field Airport.

In order for Kohl to complete the project she had in mind, she set out to find several different artisans that made airplanes. She then compiled the work of those artists into her own piece of art, a mobile that circles around the baggage carousel in the terminal.

Hanging on the wall, near the display, is a ceramic mural featuring photos of the artists, their planes, places on the world map and a photo typical of their countries. Kohl hopes to include a video of the artists making the planes; there is footage but funding is still needed for editing.

Kohl had the opportunity to experience the artists at work. She expressed how impressive it was to watch the artists create their planes and the role she had in the process, "It's a different role, as an artist, than what I am used to," she said, "It was a role of curator. I was putting together art from around the world. It's been really wonderful watching the people making it."

The folk-art airplanes, small yet intricately detailed, include such materials as paper mache from Mexico City, wire from Zimbabwe, palm from Malawi (South Africa), as well as jets, helicopters and a biplane made from recycled cans from Vietnam. Kohl said it was an interesting project as some of the artists didn't use conventional ways of putting their pieces together tools not used by some of the more modern artists, such as their feet, and other tools made from natural products. "Our culture has become so mechanized. To see people making things with their hands these are skills that are in danger of being lost," Kohl said.

Kohl has been an art professor at CSUB since 1987. Most of her recent work is made from recycled steel and adobe and has a combination feel of both ancient and contemporary. Kohl prefers her artwork be interpreted by the viewer and hopes her art reflects not only a depiction of the impact the world has had on individuals but also their impact on the world as well.

For additional information, please call Kohl at (661) 654-3095, or for details on the Meadows Field public art program, please call Hitchcock at (661) 391-1800.