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Flight Zine.jpg


of Flight

Invitational Group Exhibition

organized by Sandra Reed


of Flight

January 18 - February 18, 2022​

Library Gallery

Marshall University Academic Center

100 Angus Drive, South Charleston, WV

About the Exhibition

Conceptions of Flight is a thematic invitational group exhibition. It is also a co-curricular activity for Marshall students from my Fall 2021 Advanced Drawing course. Participation was optional and subsequent to completion of the Advanced Drawing course. This is the third external group exhibition that I have coordinated for upper-level Marshall students. The reliability, vision, and results achieved by Marshall art students in both prior public exhibition venues gave me confidence to undertake this project, and the fourteen invited artists have validated this trust.


In 2014, Lynne Edington, then Graduate Librarian on Marshall University’s South Charleston campus, made an open invitation for students from the School of Art & Design in Huntington, WV to exhibit artwork at the Library Gallery. This invitation is the point of origination for Conceptions of Flight. The felicitous juncture of several factors made such an exhibition possible now. These include the one-time American Rescue Plan Project Support for Individual Artists grant from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History and course releases provided with my appointment as the 2021-2023 Drinko Academy Fellow. In writing what became a successful grant application, I was attentive to this time and place, meaning, in 2020, the solemn acknowledgement of the 50th anniversary of the Marshall plane crash, and in 2021, enrollment of Marshall students in a new aviation degree program. The ARP grant provides a stipend for each exhibiting artist to offset the expenses of framing and transportation and for my own expenses to implement this exhibition and a subsequent solo exhibition. In addition to these standard financial considerations, the ARP grant inspired collaboration with an author and a designer as integral aspects of this exhibition project. 

The arts contribute to civic wellness for artists through the benefits of making and for patrons through the benefits of viewing and reflecting. The acts of viewing and pondering a work of art–asking why it was made as it was and what it means–create human connections and opportunities for recognition of shared experiences, which can be rejuvenating for the viewer. Collectively, and in a form that is accessible for you, we hope that the Conceptions of Flight exhibition and this zine, as well as the corresponding website, video tour, and audio commentary, heighten your empathy for others and support your courage to engage with the world in all of its complexities.

Professor Sandra Reed
Marshall University


We are born from water, but we dream of sky. Our fascination with flight is as old as civilization itself, evidenced by ancient artifacts and myths from every culture. Gods ride on chariots of fire. Kings perch atop winged horses. Boats fly across the ocean. In every period of human history, in every pocket of the earth, we are united by our preoccupation with flight.   


The impulse to reach new heights can’t be understood without its equally high stakes.
The Cold War ushered in more than fear toward whatever might drop from the sky—it launched us toward the moon. Flight is always fraught with danger and desire. As a metaphor, its meaning is multiple and varied, from freedom and escape to fleeing and falling. Naturally, it resists being pinned down and contained.   


Likewise, I’ve been encircling the theme of flight for most of my writing life. It’s less an obsession than a haunting that began with my grandfather and uncles’ plan to fly instead of drive to a farm machinery show a few states away. This plan manifested in my family’s worst nightmare when the pilot, for reasons we’ll never know, flew off course and dove 300 knots toward ground. 


The horror and grief at losing someone to flight—at their going up and never coming back down—feels distinctive from other loss. To my mother, her dad and brothers didn’t die so much as vanish. Years later, I’d hear this same sentiment, uttered verbatim, by surviving family members of those who perished aboard Southern Airways Flight 932, also known as the Marshall plane crash. 


The events of that day—November 14, 1970—in Huntington, West Virginia and Marshall’s Bill Noe Flight School, recently installed at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia form a poignant backdrop for Conceptions of Flight, which features the artwork of fourteen invited artists displayed in the Library Gallery at Marshall University’s Academic Center in South Charleston.


While the tragedy still looms large in Marshall’s collective psyche–just as my family’s history does in mine–the artwork exhibited here reveals a diverse and individual engagement with the theme. Some of the featured artists interpret flight as a rising up; a moving forward; a breaking free from struggle. Others have captured the thrill and wonder of travel; of the movement of clouds; of building new wings, mythopoetically. Whatever the interpretation, Conceptions of Flight provides an arresting look at the ways this age-old preoccupation continues to move the imagination and stretch the limits of our reach.

Professor Rachael Peckham

Marshall University

Anchor 1

Conceptions of Flight
Click an Artist's button to see their Artwork and Artist Statement
and to hear their individual Audio Commentaries.

Anchor 2

To contact Sandra Reed:

This program is presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts.

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