ART IN THE PHILADELPHIA AIRPORT: Wrinkled Blue by Jacintha Clark

Wrinkled Blue by Jacintha Clark at the Philadelphia Airport

One of the things I most enjoy about travel is the discovery of the unexpected—a personal encounter, an unusual shop window, a sighting of a rare animal, or spotting an intriguing piece of art. Recently I was making my way through the Philadelphia airport when my eye caught a display cabinet filled with what looked like nautical memorabilia. I had some extra time before my next plane so I stopped to take a closer look. It turned out to be a carefully constructed collection of nautical items—maps, ropes, sextants, a spyglass, photos, papers, etc.—all in white porcelain. It was part of #PHLAirportArt, a program begun in 1998 to “humanize the airport environment, provide visibility for Philadelphia’s unique cultural life, and to enrich the experience of the traveling public.” This exhibit, called Wrinkled Blue, was created by artist Jacintha Clark, influenced by her career in architectural conservation.
She was inspired by the USS Olympia, the oldest steel warship afloat in the world and the only surviving naval ship of the Spanish-American War. Olympia was decommissioned in 1922 and has been part of Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, since 1996. Clark describes Wrinkled Blue, "it is about the history of a ship, a structure of naval architecture, and its turbulent and poetic relationship with the sea."  As described in the text accompanying the exhibit, "by using white porcelain, Clark has created a moment that seems frozen in time like stone replicas forever preserved."
I found the exhibit intriguing and was fascinated by the way the artist had translated the objects from one medium to another and the detail that she was able to include. Who would have thought you could make porcelain look like paper! Or scrimshaw! Or knotted ropes! I was glad that I had taken the time to examine the art, rather than just rushing by to catch my next plane.
You can find out more about the artist at

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