Terminal High: Art at the Atlanta Airport

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William Haseltine


I love art and I like to travel. What then could be better than finding art in the Atlanta Airport, specifically Terminal E while changing planes on the way from Washington to Lima.

What I noticed first was a wall mounted display of outsized Venus fly traps in bronze. The amazing shapes, each designed to lure and trap an unwary prey, are study in form and function. Alas I did not record the artist's name.

Imaginative works in glass by contemporary artists are impossible to miss, located as they are smack in the center of the aisle. These are for the High Museum of Art, reminding us that Atlanta is the home of this great institution (for those of us who missed by Tom Wolfe's brilliant description of this Institution in "A Man in Full."

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William Haseltine



Just across the way is a moving tribute to Martin Luther King. Candid photographs show this great leader in private moments, his marriage, playing ball with his son, relaxing with friends, and times of high drama forever seared into our collective memory, freedom marches, meeting with world leaders, his funeral. The photos are interspersed with memorabilia, glasses he wore to give him an air of added gravity (the lenses do no refract), the portable radio he carried to listen to the news as he marched, a simple watch. We are reminded of what one fragile man can contribute to an entire people and a nation.

Just before the food courts is an offering from the Center for Puppetry Arts. Puppets from around the world Bali, West Java, Cambodia, Germany, Turkey, China, Indonesia, Nigeria and mounted in individual cases. They speak to our universal desire to caricature and entertain.

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William Haseltine


The United States is represented by "The Hippy," a Muppet used to advertise Campbell soup in the 1980s. Who knew that Jim Henson's Muppets (according to the accompanying text) had a prior life in television advertising prior to their alphabetic exercises on Sesame Street?

Finally, I am reminded by a clock, artfully concealed in a mural, that I have dallied to long. It is time to run for the gate.

William Haseltine is a former professor at Harvard Medical School, where he researched cancer and HIV/AIDS. He is the founder of Human Genome Sciences, where he served as chairman and CEO, and the president of the William A Haseltine Foundation for Medical Sciences and the Arts. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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