Public Art Fund Talks: Layqa Nuna Yawar and Karyn Olivier


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.

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.

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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.


About the Artists

Layqa Nuna Yawar creates art deeply informed by his own immigrant and multicultural identity, confronting racism, injustice, and xenophobia through imagery that uplifts those targeted by these prejudices. Prioritizing public art in his practice, Layqa Nuna Yawar uses the mural as a platform to explore and celebrate the intricacies of these historically marginalized identities, emphasizing unity, diversity, history, and cross-cultural exchange in works that center the communities in which they are placed.

Layqa Nuna Yawar has had exhibitions at MoMA PS1, Queens, NY, the Newark Museum of Art, Newark, NJ, and more, including in Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Berlin, San Juan, and Tehran. He has also painted murals throughout Newark, NJ, and New York, NY, as well as in Ecuador, El Salvador, Paraguay, South Korea, Mexico, and Canada. He was awarded a Monument Lab Research Residency (2020), a Creative Catalyst Fund Fellowship by the City of Newark (2020), and a Moving Walls Fellowship by Open Society Foundations (2019).

Karyn Olivier lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. She considers history, displacement, migration, and visibility/invisibility through conceptual sculptures made of industrial materials and found objects. In these sculptures, conventional figuration is absent, but the vestiges of bodies are central. With this transposal of the human subject, Olivier collapses multiple histories, memories, and times, creating singular material snapshots of larger processes of movement and change.

Olivier has had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, PA, and the University of Buffalo Art Gallery, NY, as well as at galleries in Italy, Mexico, and the U.S. She has participated in group exhibitions at Documenta 15, Kassel, Germany; the Gwangju and Busan Biennials, South Korea; the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture, Dakar, Senegal; The Whitney Museum of Art of American Art, New York, NY; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY; MoMA PS1, Queens, NY; Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh, PA; and more.

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.