650 LADDERS – Aaron T Stephan’s Sculpture “Paths Rising” Installed at Tampa International Airport

“Paths Rising” © Aaron T Stephan

PRESS RELEASE | TAMPA, FLORIDA, 10 JUNE, 2022  – Nationally acclaimed artist Aaron T Stephan revealed a significant new public installation titled “Paths Rising” in the Main Terminal at Tampa International Airport. This 30 ft. wide suspended sculpture consists of over 650 tapered ladders framed by a glowing oculus of gold leaf.

“Paths Rising” will serve as an exciting new anchor point for arrivals and departures from Tampa Bay. The work is inspired by the vibrant culture and natural beauty of the region – while its form, color, and overall dynamic speaks to the airport’s theme of atmosphere. In this way, “Paths Rising” creates a metaphor for Tampa Bay while integrating seamlessly with the airport’s striking architecture.

The work was carefully crafted from Basswood in the artist’s studio in Portland, ME over the past year and installed with the assistance of Tampa based company Splat Paint, who applied the gold leaf. Tapered from end to end, the ladders give a sense of exaggerated perspective and seem to meet at a distant central point far above. The work’s powerful upward movement leads the eye up and beyond the actual space of the airport to an inspiring unknown. A few individual ladders reach down beyond the rim of the oculus suggesting a touchpoint for the passing viewer – a meaningful and humorous invitation to enter the work itself.

“Paths Rising” © Aaron T Stephan

Artist Aaron T Stephan lives and works in Portland, Maine. His work presents a wry look at the world around him – focusing on the complex web of information carried by everyday materials and objects. Stephan has completed over 25 major public works in municipal spaces throughout the US. A graduate of Maine College of Art and SUNY New Paltz, his work is noted for his diverse approach to form spanning from a life-sized orchestra of plastic snap-to parts, gestural streetlights, and gracefully curved ladders reminiscent of DNA. His public works can be found in the collections of cities across the nation including Salt Lake City, UT; Clearwater, FL; Arvada, CO; Nashville, TN; and Lubbock, TX; among many others.

With “Paths Rising” I have adapted the ladder to evoke the many individual paths that converge at Tampa International Airport” commented the artist “The work represents a shared moment between travelers – each with an individual journey – gathered together for a fleeting moment as they enter and depart the city.

Aaron T Stephan

“Paths Rising” is a permanent installation commissioned by the Tampa International Airport.

For further information about this press-release or Aaron T Stephan’s work please visit his website at or email:

“Paths Rising” © Aaron T Stephan

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2 replies »

  1. So proud to find out about this BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF ART… A local from my small home town of West Valley NY … CONGRATULATIONS you are truly gifted!!
    Proud of you Stephan. Gail Bishop

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