Arthur Blank, owner and chairman of the Atlanta Falcons — who attributes his appreciation of the arts to his mother, the late Molly Blank — said the stadium was designed to reflect both top-notch architecture and the diversity of Atlanta’s population and culture.
The art experience begins outside the stadium and continues throughout the interior from the main concourse to the private suites and club rooms. It includes the photographs, paintings, sculptures and mixed-media works of highly regarded artists featured as prominently on the upper levels of the stadium as on the main level.
Many of the artists, including New York-based Nari Ward, found ways to include the local community in their work. Ward’s “One Voice” uses his trademark shoelaces in a large-scale installation on the main level. The work is composed of more than 10,000 pairs of shoelaces that were gathered from metro-area residents. This gives locals an intimate connection to a work of art that symbolizes regional unity.
High above the main concourse is Radcliffe Bailey’s “Conduits of Contact,” a mixed-media marvel that, at more than 48 feet, is the largest two-dimensional work in the stadium.
Bailey, an internationally recognized artist who is based in Atlanta, worked with Pellom McDaniels, a former NFL player and rare book librarian at Emory University, to research the role of sports in the African-American community. They sourced images of sports teams at historically black colleges and universities as early as 1901, which Bailey used to help depict the movement and history of African-Americans in the country.
Savannah-based artist and SCAD graduate, Melody Postma also turned to history to create “Love of the Game,” an homage to the 50-year history of the Atlanta Falcons. She drew inspiration from memorabilia — such as season tickets from early Falcons games and the three logos used in franchise history — to tell a story interwoven with the geography of the state.
It took some effort to produce work on such a large-scale, said Postma, but it paid off. “It has that wow factor, which is the energy they wanted to convey,” she said.
Because the stadium is also home to the Atlanta United soccer team, artwork in the stadium references that sport too. A large-scale mural by Atlanta-born artist Jimmy O’Neil depicts a goalkeeper formed in hand-painted gold mirror.
In 2018, a 35-foot mirror-faceted soccer ball sculpture by Studio Roso — based on the first multi-panel football design from 1970 at the FIFA World Cup Finals — will be installed at the stadium’s north entrance as a symbol for Atlanta United.
“I hope through this project many more individuals will be exposed to what great art can be,” said Rowan of SCAD. “Art should be something that is approachable, has meaning and is crafted with a point of view.”