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A photo of an Earth Month exhibit by Natsuki Takauji
News April 29, 2024

JFK Commissions Materials For The Arts To Create An Earth Month Installation For JFK's Terminal 4

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The installation is the latest feature of the T4 Arts & Culture program, a partnership between the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and JFKIAT to curate a diverse art initiative that reflects New York City

Queens, New York – April 25, 2024 Passengers traveling through John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 4 this month will see a special art installation to celebrate Earth Month. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and JFKIAT – the operator of Terminal 4 – partnered with Materials for the Arts (MFTA), a sustainable program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs based in Queens, to feature an art exhibit by local artist Natsuki Takauji.

The airplane installation at T4, titled “Future Flight,” is made of plastics Takauji sourced from MFTA, which diverts over 1.5 million pounds of supplies from landfills and provides them to support arts and culture across New York City. Her airplane artwork is a playful amalgamation of a range of plastic materials, including recycle bins, spoons and forks, food containers, whimsical toys, and even a Barbie doll. Melded with patches of moss and astroturf, the work reminds viewers of the range of waste thrown away and the importance of recycling and sustainable initiatives for the betterment of the planet.

“At JFKIAT, sustainability is a pillar of our company’s mission to responsibly steward the largest terminal at JFK Airport,” said Roel Huinink, CEO of JFKIAT. “We are very proud of the work we’ve done in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to lead our industry in sustainable air terminal management. In 2022, T4 was named the first existing airport terminal in the U.S. to earn LEED Platinum recognition for pre-existing air terminals, and The Green Restaurant Association awarded T4 the 2023 Greenest Airport Terminal Award, highlighting how the terminal has more Certified Green Restaurants® than any other airport terminal in North America. This latest installation is a great representation of our commitment to driving awareness around sustainability for our community and our planet. We are very excited to work with the MFTA to showcase this impactful art exhibit and share the exceptional work of Natsuki Takauji with our passengers and the T4 community.”

“Our gateways that welcome millions of travelers to this region reflect where we are and also who we are,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This installation is a good-natured yet poignant reminder of the focus that the Port Authority and its partners place on sustainability, and the role all of us have to play in keeping our planet healthy. We’re proud to give it a home at Terminal 4.”

“We strive to feature imaginative and thought-provoking public art at our world-class airports to enhance our customers’ travel experience,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “We hope our Terminal 4 customers will take a moment to appreciate ‘Future Flight’ during this Earth Month and the conversations around sustainability that it may spark.”

“The Department of Cultural Affairs is immensely proud of our Materials for the Arts program and the incredible work they do to foster a cleaner, greener, more creative NYC,” said NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “Last year alone, MFTA diverted over 1.7 million pounds of supplies from landfills, providing reusable supplies free of charge to arts and cultural nonprofits, public school teachers, and social service organizations. We’re overjoyed to see MFTA’s support in realizing artist Natsuki Takauji's extraordinary installation, where her airplane creation takes flight in one of our city's busiest transit hubs, symbolizing not just physical travel but also creative reuse, soaring imagination, and the creative spirit of our city.”

“This project brought me a new experience working with recyclable materials, and thinking of upcycling art, aircraft business, and sustainability," said artist Natsuki Takauji. "Creating it at Materials for the Arts was a meaningful process that made me imagine the stories of materials: where they came from, what they were meant to be, and what they can become. As an artist, I always find public art is a powerful way to communicate with public but transforming the materials to give a new voice and vision to be shown at JFK Airport was a very inspiring and empowering experience for me."

"For this joyful sculptural installation at JFK's Terminal 4, Natsuki Takauji masterfully uses MFTA supplies, including recycled bins, plastic utensils, and toys, to convey the message of sustainability and creative reuse in such a beautiful, accessible way,” said MFTA Executive Director Tara Sansone. “We extend our gratitude to JFKIAT for their incredible supply donations to Materials for the Arts, which will amplify the message of creative reuse to the vast array of travelers from all over the globe passing through the airport’s largest terminal.”

JFKIAT’s partnership with the MFTA extends beyond this exhibit. Each year, JFKIAT donates furniture, equipment, and supplies to the organization. With help from JFKIAT’s business partners, airlines, and lounges, items are sent to the MFTA, which provides NYC arts nonprofits, public school, and city agencies access to free materials. This partnership allows JFKIAT to divert waste from entering local landfills and provide materials that benefit the larger Queens community. As part of the donation program, T4 donated more than 13 tons of items in 2023 alone.

The T4 Arts & Culture program is part of JFKIAT’s and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s commitment to supporting the local community and providing enriching experiences for travelers that epitomize New York City. JFKIAT formed a committee to facilitate the program, including the Museum of the City of New York, Delta Air Lines, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Terminal Four Airline Consortium.

In 2024, JFKIAT announced the expansion of the T4 Arts & Culture program with the unveiling of new installations, including a digital and static photography exhibit in collaboration with the Cradle of Aviation Museum, a mural representing Queens by local artist Zeehan Wazed, and a series of photographs captured by T4 employees who share their passion for aviation. Passengers also experienced a hologram installation in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society featuring extensive video elements about wildlife and wild places, including a hologram experience of Bronx Zoo’s animals and its director, Jim Breheny. The T4 Arts & Culture program presents a curated, ongoing series of installations, exhibits and performances within T4 throughout the year that represent the full New York City experience, from local art to food, culture and beyond. As the program moves forward, T4 will also house a collection of permanent art installations in the future.

Previous programs and installations at the terminal have included: a Pride Pop-up Museum in partnership with the LGBT Network and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, which highlighted a range of artwork and historical pride information; a partnership with Steinway & Sons to present a week-long series of performances in the Retail Hall spotlighting 19 local pianists and artists as part of a Valentine’s Festival of Music; a mental health-themed mural that raised awareness around mental health and helped to reduce the stigma toward people who experience mental illness, created as part of the NYC Mural Arts Project and displayed in the Arrivals Hall in 2022; and a powerful musical performance honoring 32 veterans at T4 in partnership with CreatiVets, in celebration of Veterans Day in 2022.

About Natsuki Takauji

Natsuki Takauji was born in Tokyo, Japan, and moved to NYC in 2008 to discover herself as an artist after receiving a B.A. in Creative Writing from Waseda University. Her mother was also a writer, however, she realized her strong desire to explore tactile and visual expression. She studied Fine Art at the historical art school, The Art Students League of New York, where she currently teaches Metal Sculpture and leads a public art program, Works in Public, in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation. Natsuki has developed her interdisciplinary practice in diversity such as kinetic, intricate, mixed-media or metal sculpture, AI or video multimedia art, drawing, painting, art book, socially engaged art, public art, and more. She co-founded a non-profit arts organization, The Artist Gardener NYC to activate green spaces in the local communities through arts and educational programs. Her public sculptures were exhibited throughout NYC; Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Riverside Park South, Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, GreenThumb Community Gardens, and more. She completed a socially engaging project, "What Is Your Name?" at the LaGuardia Airport, right before the pandemic in 2020; it was exhibited at Japan Society, and The City College of New York. Other recent exhibition venues included Kapow Gallery and SPRING/BREAK Art Show in NYC, Kameyama Art Triennale in Japan, Seoul World Art Expo in Korea, Oeno Gallery in Canada, and Palazzo Mora in the Venice Biennale, Italy. She is a recipient of the AnkhLave Garden Project Fellowship, Artport Residency Fellowship, Queens Art Fund Grant, Nessa Cohen Grant, and more. She is currently based out of Queens, New York.

About Materials for the Arts (MFTA)

A program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, with support from the Department of Education and Friends of Materials for the Arts, MFTA is NYC’s largest reuse center supporting nonprofits with arts programming, public schools, and City agencies. On average MFTA collects about 1.5 million pounds of supplies each year which it provides, free of charge, to its member organizations. In addition to providing materials, MFTA has the MFTA Education Center, Gallery, Artist-in-Residence and Designer-in-Residence programs, and Third Thursday public programming, which are supported by Friends of Materials for the Arts. Learn more at


JFK International Air Terminal, LLC. (JFKIAT) is the operator of Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, one of the most active air terminals in the New York area, serving 22 international and domestic airlines with an annual passenger volume of more than 26 million travelers in 2023. In 2017 Terminal 4 became the first existing airport terminal in the U.S. to receive LEED Gold certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for operations and maintenance, and in 2022 it became the first air terminal in the U.S. to receive Platinum recognition for pre-existing air terminals. The Terminal’s expansive Retail Lounge offers an unparalleled experience for travelers with a wide range of food and beverage and retail options, from chic to upscale and from convenience stores, to electronics, accessories, and gifts. Terminal 4 was the first air terminal in North America operated by a private management company. JFKIAT’s managing member is Schiphol USA Inc., a U.S. affiliate of Royal Schiphol Group.

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