First Flight, (Hats off to Charlie)

First Flight, (Hats off to Charlie)

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oil on panel, 20×33″ SOLD
This commission was a re-imagining of a famous painting by C. M. Russell.
 
In lieu of the “fireboat” in Russell’s orgininal, I envisioned a glider, fashioned by an Indian wise man, from hides, bone, wood, and sinew, on its first, suspenseful and miraculous flight. Its sounds crazy, but there are documented glider flights from history as early as 875 AD. (see Abbas Ibn Firnas) In 1866 an illiterate Polish sculptor by the name of Jan Wnek fashioned a steerable glider of Ash wood and Resin impregnated cloth, based entirely on extensive studies of the structure of the geese wing. Wnek’s glider flew, though a malfunction brought about his end in 1869.
 
There are many stories of transformation in Native American mythology. A gifted Native American mystic may have been in a position to study at length the movement of birds though the air and to begin to wonder how to  acquire the power of flight. He would have been familiar with the structure of the bird’s wing. It is possible that this event could have happened, but the metaphorical content is what I’m interested in. The glider is fashioned from the bison, which is representative of the earth, but through human ingenuity the bison has become a thing of the air. It’s the age old theme of heaven meeting earth. I hoped to evoke the tension of the moment, the miraculous meeting the possibility of a tragic fall.
 
The central Indian is no longer making the sign for Fire, but is at the end of the sign for “chief” or “he is above all”, which happens to also to be pointing a finger slightly down. So the gesture has two meanings depending on how you look at it.

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