In advance of Women’s History Month beginning on Friday, United Airlines is launching a first-of-its-kind contest designed to find and uplift underrepresented women artists by providing a chance to paint a canvas like no other — a United Airlines aircraft. While 51% of today’s artists are women, less than 13% of art on display in museums is by women artists according to The National Museum of Women in the Arts. Painting a Boeing 757 provides artists with a traveling canvas that flies on average 1.6 million miles a year and 476 cross-country trips. The aircraft is roughly 300 times larger than the typical 18″ x 24″ canvas.
“As a company, we believe in the importance of equality of women in what has historically been a male dominated field,” said Jill Kaplan, United’s president for New York and New Jersey. “When we heard the statistics about how underrepresented women are when it comes to displaying their art, we thought what better way to contribute to changing this narrative than by offering the biggest canvas we have access to – an aircraft.”
United has long been committed to being a leader in advancing women in the aviation industry. Today the carrier has more women who are pilots than any other airline in the world, including Bebe O’Neil, United’s System Chief Pilot, who manages the carrier’s 12,600 pilots. The airline has worked with Women in Aviation, a nonprofit organization which provides networking, education, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities, for more than 25 years and Girls in Aviation Day to ensure a growing number of female pilots.
“As a global company with inclusion at our core, we constantly seek unique opportunities to celebrate and showcase diverse talents,” United’s California President Janet Lamkin commented. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity through this unique contest to bring visibility to the work of these exceptional female artists. We take pride in leveraging our global presence to showcase their great work to millions of people who see our planes on the ground and in the sky.”
To enter, individuals must identify as a woman, including cisgender, transgender, woman-aligned or non-binary, and reside in the United States, who can visually represent either New York/New Jersey or California, two key markets for the airline, in their own style, while combining the company’s mission and what the communities in each region mean to the artist. Two winners, one representing each region, will be chosen and given a chance to work alongside renowned artist Shantell Martin to finalize a design for their respective region’s plane. Shantell brings to the contest her talents and work, from the New York City Ballet to a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Kendrick Lamar, which are full of whimsical drawings and storytelling, that are dedicated to making sure other women artists are seen.
To enter, individuals are encouraged to visit United website and submit a design idea, examples of their work portfolio along with a short video by March 24, 2019. Submissions will be judged and narrowed down to three finalists by a panel of judges from each region, led by each region’s president, Janet Lamkin in California and Jill Kaplan in New York/New Jersey from March 25 – April 9, 2019, followed by a public vote from April 10 – April 19, 2019 to determine the winning artists from each region. Finalists and winners will also receive their own open gallery show, have their art work on display inside United Airlines terminals through 2019 with their works available to purchase and they will also be awarded 100,000 MileagePlus award miles. The final designs will take flight this fall.
Customers in Los Angeles and New York have an opportunity to visit murals by Shantell Martin as part of this contest. Each mural showcases interactive airplane windows that lead to videos with more information. The murals will be on display from now until March 18 at 799 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA and at 38 Norman Ave, Brooklyn, NY.