Connecting the region's vibrant art scene with its rich aerospace history.

Art+Flight, offered sculpture, painting, photography, installations and new media, to realize our feelings, enhance our perceptions and remind us of the awe and joy of flight through the materiality of art. The museum-wide exhibition included interactive mural painting, music, dance and plenty of family activities. Guest speakers and engaging community events regularly enhanced the celebration. 

This exhibit closed January 7, 2024.

About Art+Flight

Aerospace enthusiasts vividly remember when they fell in love with flight. For some it is the memory of sensation. The sound of a droning plane, the sight of crisscrossed farmland far below, the sweet yet acrid smell of a warm aircraft engine, the rumblings of a rocket launch, or the feeling of gravity’s firm grip and release in flight. For others it is interconnectedness that is made possible by flight. The way it shrinks incomprehensible distances and connects us both to our loved ones and the world beyond our everyday routine, whether that’s a new culture or a new planet. For most people, the wonder of flight is indescribable, or the technology behind it overshadows the magic and joy. Enter the artist. The Museum-wide Art+Flight project offers sculpture, painting, photography, installation, and new media, to realize our feelings, enhance our perceptions, and remind us of the awe and joy of flight through the materiality of art.

This exhibition explores a vast range of topics. From artists like Joe Nix, whose new mural in the Great Gallery captures his familial connection with the blue-collar history of Seattle aviation, to Rik Allen, who creates playful and impossible glass flying machines, to RYAN! Feddersen, whose installation sparks a meditation on our collective responsibility regarding the accumulation of space trash.

Technology and collaboration are intrinsic to the world of aviation; here artists explore the themes in many ways. Jeffrey Milstein’s aerial photographs of airports evoke a matrix of metallic veins and organs, and flowing within them is us—traveling, working, waiting and dreaming. Harriet Salmon, Artist-in-Residence, begins her art with actual aircraft structures and transforms them using traditional ash and willow panel weaving techniques. Salmon’s collision of old and new technologies (and their histories) results in beautiful new meanings that neither of them could have achieved alone. Jeffrey Stenbom’s Freedom’s Threads speaks to a different kind of collaboration, service in the armed forces. Suspended in the World War II Gallery of the Museum, this work is reimagined and spun from the fabric of uniforms that literally touched the lives of military aviators.

Perspective is another theme explored by artists in the exhibition. Flight shifts our perspective, sometimes allowing us a new way to see the world, and sometimes demanding it. The view from above can bring us closer to humanity or summons our loneliness. Michiko Tanaka’s intimate artwork elicits this sentiment through her depiction of the lights of Tokyo at night—a city of 14 million people captured within an 8-inch square. Similarly, Janet Darcher’s quilted vision of snowy Greenland from an airliner at 35,000 feet offers us the icy, rugged beauty of the glaciers in the form of a cozy heirloom.

Flight astonishes us and gives us the opportunity to enter previously unknown spaces. Art is another kind of vehicle, one that carries us to new realms of creativity. Art and flight are tied to sensations of sight, sound, the feeling of our own body in space, and to our mind’s eye. Art+Flight uniquely brings these innovative fields together and allows us to evolve the conversation.