Highwire Travelers

RDU International Airport, Terminal 1

Highwire Travelers RDU International Airport, Terminal 1 Morrisville, North Carolina, USA | Composite Material, Paint, Resin Each live-sized figure varies according to the person, measuring between 5’2 and 6’2 H | 2014


Huether created this art installation of seven, individual life-sized figures for the baggage claim area in the new Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The installation combines technology with creative ingenuity and is designed in such a way that passengers departing through security as well as passengers arriving through baggage claim can experience and engage with the art. The off-white color of the figures purposefully complements the light and airy aesthetic of the space. The monochromatic palette also speaks to an ethnic cross-section of humanity: that is, we are all the same, all equal and essentially, all “color blind”.

Each figure has a personal connection to the artist. On the tight rope is the artist himself, a self-portrait; his daughter, Erika, on the other tightrope; Darcy Sue, his significant other, is taking a picture; Warren, standing back and watching Gordon, is a musician and friend of the studio; Brian, with the backpack, owns a nail salon and is sitting next to Ivory, who is the wife of the artist’s favorite bartender; and finally, Christina, who is reading a book and is a valued member of the Gordon Huether Studio team.

Each person posed for their portrait and was scanned with a digital 3D-scanner. Afterward, the digital information was sent to a CNC machine, which then carved the figures out of high-density foam. After the sections were assembled, a resin coating was applied to give the figures a smooth, hard finish and a white acrylic coating was then applied.

The figures aim to provoke a sense of curiosity, surprise and whimsy and are designed to represent the many people using the airport on a daily basis. This installation, ultimately, is about the traveler and the journey we all undergo while navigating from one place to the next.

The artist anticipates an instant engagement between the travelers of the Raleigh Durham airport and the “art travelers”. The suitcases at the end of the balancing bars, held by those figures on the tightropes, create a visual connection to the baggage claim area. And the unexpectedness of encountering these figures and the unlikeliness of ‘people-like’ characters sitting and walking high above the baggage claim floor, undoubtedly, will evoke a touch of humor and light-heartedness.