Augustana professor’s artwork finds landing in Orlando airport


image13The terminal floor in the Orlando International Airport will soon have an innovative look and some Viking pride, thanks to Augustana professor, Scott Parsons.

Parsons was selected as the winner of the floor design contest, competing against a nationwide pool of artists. The Orlando International Airport plans to use all four of Parsons’ submissions, which will be located at the four-corridor intersection in the main terminal.  

Visitors and travelers from around the world will not have a hard time spotting Parsons’ designs as they cover a 900-foot space. Parsons compared the size of each design to a “large classroom.”

Parsons submitted four self-constructed garden-themed designs: a wellness garden to tap into the health aspect that the Orlando community values, a space garden that focuses on NASA and the Kennedy Space Center, a “fun” garden where Parsons showcases the many amusement parks that Florida features and lastly a tech garden aimed at highlighting the amazing tech companies, hospitals and university programs in Florida.


“I have always been interested in how art can bring meaning into people’s lives,” Parsons said. “You do not have to go to a gallery, you can meet people in their everyday lives. Around 40 million people will go through that airport this year. You’re never going to get 40 million people visiting a gallery.” 

Parsons says there are many steps that go into the construction of his designs. For the Orlando floor designs, Parsons began with sketches and then worked with multiple images in Photoshop to focus on detail when layering images and personifying the design. He then moved to line drawing, allowing the sketches to become outlines before ultimately turning into the finished design. 

“To have a nationally renowned artist from a small liberal arts university in Sioux Falls, South Dakota is just amazing,” said Lindsay Twa, professor and Chair of the art department.

Parsons is working with the flooring company, Alpine Terrazzo Inc., while constructing the floor designs. Terrazzo Floors, located 10 miles north of Orlando, is the same company that drove from Orlando to Sioux Falls to pour the floor for Parsons’ pendulum design in the Froiland Science Complex at Augustana.

“Every opportunity to do work in a public space is a real honor,” Parsons said. 

To his fellow colleagues and his students, Parsons is more than just an artist.

“His spiritually just radiates,” Twa said “He’s deeply committed to his art and the idea that art can change the world. He’s great at showing students how art can open up doors to express themselves.” 

Students who have had, or currently have, Parsons in class can testify to his dedication to his own work, but also on improving their work as well. 

“He inspires me,” said senior Brooke Christenson. “He pushes me to want to go out and further my passion for art. He often tells me that we need to make ‘beautiful mistakes.’ Even someone who is creating these floors for thousands of people to see, highlights the fact that it’s okay to make mistakes,” Christenson said.

The floor designs, once implemented, will be very high polished proxy, 3,000 grit surfaces consisting of an array of assorted colors. Two of the designs contain up to 24 or 25 colors respectively.  

The implementation of the “fun” garden has already begun, and the wellness garden will be unveiled in December. The tech and space gardens are set for some time later this spring. 

“My interest in art began as a small child and I never quit drawing,” Parsons said. “Drawing is the foundation for everything. It’s fun to see it go in and become real. It’s also great to see the excitement of everybody involved in the process.” 


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