CAE announces slate of artists selected for the 2023 – 2024 Art in the Airport program

January 16, 2023

Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE hereafter) is excited to announce the four local artists that have been selected to participate in the 2023 – 2024 Art in the Airport program. The selected artists, represent some of the outstanding talent and creativity found throughout the region.

The four artists selected to exhibit their artwork in the airport for the upcoming season include:

  • Shaina Manuel – March 2023-May 2023
  • Michael Cruz – June 2023-August 2023
  • Candace Thibeault – September 2023-November 2023
  • Karen Petta December – December 2023-February 2024

About the Artists

Shaina Manuel (Top Left) was born and raised in Northern Virginia, but currently resides in Columbia, South Carolina where she works as a public-school teacher. She does commission pieces and personal artwork in her free time. She finds her inspiration often comes unexpectedly but gravitates toward the human body. She describes her works as detailed, with bold colors and compositions that catch your eye.

Michael Angelo Cruz (Bottom Right) was born the fourth child out of six brothers and sisters. His father is Spanish, and his mother is full-blooded Native American from the Six Nations reservation, Cayuga, Turtle clan. His mother used to tell him that she had a strong intuition he would be an artist- and that’s where the name Michael Angelo comes from. Over the years he has tried his hands in all type of art, including soap stone carvings, watercolor, pencil, ink, clay, air brush, acrylics, oils, and pastels. Cruz was born and raised in upstate New York, but currently lives in Elgin, South Carolina.

Candace Thibeault (Bottom Left) grew up in South Carolina and fell in love with exploring mediums and color at a very young age. She spent summers in high school participating in creative arts programs that would fuel her creative interests. It was in college that she began painting murals, painting her university’s first on campus mural.

In 2003, Candace graduated from Capital University, Columbus OH with a Bachelor of Fine Art Degree, Public Relations, and Art Therapy. She later moved to Boston, where she purchased a South Boston art gallery that she would own and operate for 11 years. Candace worked exclusively as a corporate art supplier; framing and choosing works for educational institutions, restaurants, architectural firms, and pharmaceutical companies. Outside of work, Candace worked as an artist in residence for a charter school, providing therapeutic visual art activities for at risk youth.

In 2006, Candace began experimenting with mixed media, and stumbled upon a style of art that she quickly adopted as her own. Since the start of her contemporary art career, Candace has had work in various galleries in Boston, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Her work has found its home in many private and corporate collections.  She has had her work featured in The Charlotte Magazine, Art New England Magazine and Artscope Magazine (A Boston publication). Candace has had the opportunity to display her work throughout Columbia, in such places as 701 Whaley, Motor Supply Co. Bistro, Bourbon Columbia and the University of South Carolina. She has had the honor of working with such organizations as the SC Native Plant Society and the Columbia Audubon Society to create images for their 2022 campaigns. Candace currently resides in Gilbert, SC where she paints and teaches full time from her home studio.

Karen Petta (Top Right) has been passionate about drawing, painting, sculpting and all things art since she was a small child. She studied psychology in college and graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she then became a therapist concentrating on treatment for post-traumatic stress, behavioral disorders, and mood disorders. In 2005, she and her family moved to South Carolina – where she decided to do art full-time and opened a hands-on studio in Lexington. She has since sold the studio to focus more on her family and her own painting and creativity. Petta says she is “grateful to be in South Carolina during this part of my artistic journey.”

“CAE’s Art in the Airport program provides a fantastic opportunity and picturesque platform for local artists to showcase their works of art and unbelievably creative minds,” said Kim J. Crafton, CAE’s Director of Marketing and Air Service Development. “Additionally, this program enhances our travelers’ experience, while simultaneously creating a sense of regional place within the airport. Once a traveler lands, these works of art will be the first artistic and cultural touchpoints they have to Columbia, S.C. and the region.”

Each exhibit will be in the connector of the terminal, the walkway between the security checkpoint and the departure/arrival gates.

CAE would like to thank all the artists who submitted works to be a part of this third season of the Art in the Airport program. The entire team here at CAE looks forward to more opportunities in the future, through the Art in the Airport program, to showcase this region’s multi-talented arts community.

For more information about the Art in the Airport program, as well as other happenings around the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, please visit


About the Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Now providing 26+ daily flights with nonstop service to 8 major airports in 9 cities including Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami (seasonal on American Airlines), New York City (LGA), Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. (Dulles and Reagan National), Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), a two-time Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accredited facility, continues to be a major economic driver for the Midlands region. Welcoming over 1.3 million passengers in 2019, CAE is served by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. CAE is a regional cargo hub for UPS and is also served by FedEx. For more information, please visit