By Askya Alexander,
Special to the AFRO
Renowned muralist and painter Thomas “Detour” Evans will be leaving his mark on the Denver International Airport (DEN) with an awe-inspiring installation that seamlessly blends culture, diversity and vibrant storytelling.
Known for his larger-than-life artwork, Evans’ latest masterpiece “It’s Not What You Take, It’s What You Bring Back,” was commissioned by airport officials. It debuts in 2025 and will continue to capture the undeniable spirit of the Mile High City.
“All the pieces that will be in the actual sculpture– actual upcycled luggage and bags and carry-on bags– are items that people actually traveled with and hold on a personal level. I wanted it to be more of a piece for the community,” said Thomas Evans. “So it’s not just me fabricating something out of metal and making it sort of like this material that you’re disconnected with.”
The idea to incorporate luggage will infuse the space with a touch of enchantment, turning a mundane object into a source of inspiration and a catalyst for storytelling.
At 30 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 10 feet high, Evans’ sculpture will consist of vibrant rainbow-colored luggage, twisting and contorting into an infinity symbol, suspended in the air above the bustling airport foot traffic on the B-East concourse.
Nestled in the vast plains of Colorado, the DEN has long been regarded as a hub of connectivity, welcoming travelers from all around the world. With its bustling walkways, the airport not only serves as the third busiest airport in the United States, but a gateway to endless possibilities as well.
Thanks to a city ordinance, Denver Public Art is responsible for setting aside one percent of municipal capital improvement projects over $1 million toward the creation of public art. This remains to be true as through the DEN gate expansion project, Evans along with three other artists will be helping to create an immersive visual journey that celebrates the city’s rich history and diverse community.
Chris Hinds, chair of the Denver City Council Business, Arts, Workforce and Aviation Services Committee, believes that the Denver community means to move past the “industrial grit” that might remain from their mining town beginnings and embrace a more vibrant and cultural landscape.
] is a symbiotic relationship between the people of Denver and the art that we have,” Hinds said. “We place importance on art and artists and ways to encourage more art in our city.”
That is one of the reasons why Evans’ art goes beyond mere aesthetics. Each piece strives to touch the souls of those who encounter it. They manage to create a visual language that resonates deeply with viewers, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries. Because of these ideals, Evans has managed to garner a rather impressive following, with 97.4k followers on Instagram, and Luis Alberto Colomo being one of them. Colomo, a Mexico City-based painter, has been a fan of Evans’ work for some time, having followed the artist along on his creative journey for years.
“I have seen Evans’ work evolve from a small painting on a garage in the RiNo Art District to massive murals and innovative projects combining art, science, and technology,” Colomo told the AFRO. “He’s not only a hard-working traditional painter but also an active content creator and inventor who inspires other artists through social media.”
From his captivating public art ventures to the recognition and admiration he receives from art lovers around the world, Evans has become a true beacon of inspiration, bringing the transformative power of art to fans far and wide.
As travelers make their way through the airport in the years to come, they will be reminded of the fact that Denver is not just a destination; it is a living, breathing masterpiece. Because of the vision and talent of Thomas “Detour” Evans, the Denver International Airport will become an immersive space where art and travel intersect, creating a personable experience for all who pass through its doors.