BFA Fine Arts Department faculty member Alice Aycock recently filed a lawsuit protesting the removal and destruction of her sculpture Star Sifter (1993) from Terminal 1 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Management at JFK says the planned removal is to make way for additional food vendors to accommodate increased traffic at the airport.
The New York Times reports that the lawsuit states that Aycock learned of the plan to remove Star Sifter when the terminal’s management unit, Terminal 1 Group Association, wrote to her last December. Ms. Aycock had been commissioned by the same unit to create the sculpture in celebration of Terminal 1’s opening in 1998 as the first new passenger building at J.F.K. in more than 25 years. “The sculpture had a dual purpose,” the lawsuit said. “Not only was the sculpture intended to enrich the terminal aesthetically, but it was also intended to fulfill a functional purpose by filling an opening in the rotunda that created an unanticipated security risk in the building design.”
Aycock, who is also a member of the city’s Public Design Commission, has created 32 public works, including pieces at other airports and suspended sculptures for convention centers in California and Connecticut. Her artwork is also included in the permanent collections of the Whitney and Brooklyn Museums and the Museum of Modern Art. “There are other instances where I have art at airports where they need to do work,” she told the Times. “They tell me well in advance, they look for an alternate space, they save the work and they reinstall it. They prioritize the work of art.”
CBS News reports that Terminal 1 Group planned to begin dismantling the structure on April 24, but a judge granted Aycock a temporary restraining order halting those plans. A hearing was scheduled for April 27 to determine if an injunction stopping the sculpture’s removal is appropriate.