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Tarantino’s new works enter the public eye

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"Cloud Countries," a work by Ann Tarantino, on display at the Pittsburgh International Airport

Cyclists peddling under the Brooklyn Bridge or travelers preparing to embark on a journey from the Pittsburgh International Airport will now have their experience ornamented with work from Ann Tarantino, Penn State School of Visual Arts assistant professor.

“Razzle Dazzle” and “Cloud Countries” are two of Tarantino’s latest public art installments that signify a shift in how and when the prolific artist’s work can be consumed.

Throughout her career, Tarantino has exhibited in galleries across the country and internationally. Her drawing and painting background has led to an award-winning career that is anchored by her two-dimensional art, but as her work evolved she discovered the fruits of “leaving the canvas.”

“While I still see the work as emerging from the same language of drawing and painting, oftentimes now it’s three-dimensional or kind of two-dimensional plus,” Tarantino said. “The majority of this work comes from an interest in the kinds of spaces and landscapes that people inhabit and I pull from the patterns, textures and colors that we find in those landscapes.”

As Tarantino’s interest in working with landscapes was growing, she learned of the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority’s “Department of Transportation Art Barrier Beautification Program,” an initiative for which an artist is commissioned to create designs that will be painted on traffic barriers throughout New York City.

“Razzle Dazzle,” a design based on “dazzle camouflage”—complex geometric patterns and shapes painted with contrasting colors on World War I and World War II ships in an effort to confuse the enemy of the ship’s course—was painted on 400 feet of concrete traffic barrier under the Brooklyn Bridge.

In late May, with help from architecture student Teagan Marron and sculpture student Danielle Spewak, Tarantino worked with a team of more than 60 volunteers from Chase Manhattan Bank and New York Cares to bring her vision to life. The installation will run through 2019.

Almost 400 miles west of the Brooklyn Bridge and just next to the ticket counter in the Pittsburgh International Airport is “Cloud Countries.”

The 40-foot-long installation enclosed in a glass case was created by Tarantino using paper, colored acrylic, light gels, wood and ink. The piece “is an imagined new landscape, inviting viewers to imagine new worlds as they embark on their own journeys.”

“Cloud Countries” was commissioned by Pittsburgh International Airport's “Art in the Airport” on the heels of Tarantino’s popular installation “Watermark,” which was inspired by the water that runs through Millvale, a borough adjacent to Pittsburgh, and connects community assets Riverfront Park, Grant Avenue Pocket Park (GAP Park) and the Grant Avenue business district with a single line.

As Tarantino’s work in public spaces progresses, she hopes the art can create a different kind of connection to each place and to possibly encourage people to think about their surroundings in a different way.

“The idea is to create a different experience in that space that you might not otherwise have,” Tarantino said. “It’s my hope that these aesthetics can humanize these spaces and perhaps spark a conversation about them in a new way.”