Tulsa International Airport presents a new art exhibit focusing on the city’s history

A new art exhibit at Tulsa International Airport features the work of a local metalworking artist. The exhibit includes four unique pieces that represent Tulsa’s history and resources.

In the TIA waiting room, this new exhibition called “Flight #918” welcomes travelers from everywhere. The airport area is reserved for a different exhibition each year.

This year’s artist is proud to call Tulsa home, and he wants to make sure his work reflects that. The man behind the metalwork, Ralph Weidling, said the pieces featured are inspired by things he has seen or felt while living in Green Country for the past 11 years.

“Really just to represent the city and state that helped me find myself, you know?” explained Weidling. “My motto is: ‘I found my destiny in the 918.'”

The designs focus on Tulsa’s Art Deco, vast oil history and Native American culture, with one piece even showing how to say “Hello” in the languages ​​of Oklahoma’s five civilized tribes.

Weidling showed News On 6 where he lives and creates: On a farm in Sand Springs he calls the “Painted Acres.” He transformed a room into a workshop and a barn into a metal workshop.

The 32-year-old worked in industrial welding and landscaping before becoming a full-time artist.

For the airport exhibit, he had a month to create the pieces, including black and gold Art Deco, a bison, the Tulsa skyline, and a scene of Tulsa roads.

“I want them to feel connected, also surprised,” Weidling said. “I think the world, in general, doesn’t know much about Oklahoma.”

TIA’s Stephanie Chester said the purpose of airport art is to give travelers a sense of where they are.

“It definitely gives a glimpse of the city, a glimpse of the culture that we have here in Tulsa,” Chester explained. “It’s a great way for us to be able to show travelers that, ‘Hey, this is a preview of what you’re ‘gonna see when you first arrive in Tulsa.'”

Weidling said it’s an honor to give back to a community that has helped him grow as an artist and a person. This exhibition will be at the airport until January 2023.


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Reggie S. Williams