It’s not easy to absorb a community’s culture in two days, but Meridith McKinley has 20 years of practice.
The art consultant arrived Monday for a brief visit to help Barkley Regional Airport officials plan a curation process for artwork installation in the new terminal next spring.
“We’re working with the community on a decision-making process,” said McKinley of Via Partnership, a St. Louis-based public art consultancy. She added she’s serving as a conduit between local artists and the airport.
Her stay involved an intensive tour of the Hotel Metropolitan, Luther F. Carson Center, National Quilt Museum, River Discovery Center, Yeiser Art Center and various Lower Town studios, among other locations.
On Tuesday, she visited the Pinecone Gallery, 421 N. 7th St. During a meet-and-greet, local artists asked questions and explained their wishes to keep the process inclusive.
With McKinley’s experience and assistance, an ad hoc committee will present an art-selection process to the Airport Authority board for a final say later.
But there’s no beaten path for capturing the western Kentucky zeitgeist.
McKinley said much of her work has been public policy, leading to what she deemed “a unique consultancy.”
“And airports are a unique environment for displaying art,” she said. “We’re focusing on regional artists and have been talking about commissioning new work.
“We aren’t approaching it in a cookie-cutter way — we want to work with (Barkley and the region) to make sure they have a say in how this process is going to run.”
In the past, she’s worked with the St. Louis Lambert International Airport and the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. She has collaborated with developers nationwide on projects in temporary installations, commissions, murals, and public and rotation exhibition programs.
“For our projects, the most important players are the local art committees and commissions,” she said. “We help them put a process together, get the word out to artists and facilitate those conversations.”
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