On the Tip of Our Wings (2008)
Original work owned by the Indianapolis Airport Authority
My most ambitious artwork to-date is On the Tip of Our Wings, a mural the Indianapolis Airport Authority commissioned me to create for the new airport terminal. It is made of 27 paintings and 2 fiberglassed sculptures. Its creation took three years (2006–2008). It is the largest urushi mural in the United States.*
On the Tip of Our Wings used to hang on the end wall of the security checkpoint area leading to Concourse B in the Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal of the Indianapolis International Airport. In June 2023 it was moved to a far better location in the large hallway leading from the Delta ticketing area toward Civic Plaza. You can finally contemplate the artwork leisurely any time you go to the airport.
* As of September 2023, a fact still not denied by a Google search on "urushi mural" + "United States" ☺
The template below provides the titles of each component and a few subgroups of the Indianapolis Airport mural On the Tip of Our Wings.
" On The Tip Of Our Wings, 2008 ", 6' x 32', public commission, Indianapolis Airport Authority, for The Col. H. Weir Cook Terminal.
The artwork is a contemporary abstract urushi mural intended to awake a wide constellation of feelings. Waiting to pass through security, passengers are given an esthetic pause, an artistic hiatus that they may find soothing. The artwork’s abstraction does not seek to impose any particular interpretation since it only exists for the sake of its own forms.
The work consists of 29 lacquered pieces: 27 flat panels and 2 sculptures shaped like elongated but slightly slanted Ds juxtaposed in different directions, and forming a series of localized patterns. Panels are of different sizes, and painted with a series of abstract textured motives that are echoed here and there throughout the work.
Each panel is shaped like the rounded end of a simple plane wing. The succession of these wing tips suggests many possible metaphors to the viewers. Some are related to air travel and what it may mean to let ourselves be carried on the powerful wings of man-made aircrafts to circle the globe and transcend our physical limitations. But more deeply the reflection emerges that human beings have wings of their own, and that it is thanks to them that we learn to fly and veer through all the events that affect our lives.
The two sculptures, one convex, one concave, provide an element of irregularity and surprise that accentuates the blend of formal and informal rhythms that traverse the entire composition; made of lacquered fiberglass, their perfectly smooth and lustrous surface contrasts with the more textured 2-D pieces. Color tones offer elemental suggestions of earth, water, air, sunlight, and verdure, and convey a cheerful inner spirit.
The composition is serene and aims at producing a visual, poetic, quasi-lyrical experience that all viewers, regardless of origin or age, will find some reason to enjoy. Viewers up close will be intrigued by the deep layering of textures, shifting colors, and the eerie luminosity of each panel. Viewers from afar will sense the peculiar appeal of the work’s different sections, and be led to wonder about what makes the composition attractive to them.
As we follow ascending and descending drafts and let ourselves course through our existence, we are free to change directions, explore unknown spaces, and visit distant lands. Sometimes we encounter storms and sometimes the sky is clear ahead. Our wings carry us as far as our inner strength and curiosity will allow. Humans are a migratory species, and have learned to fly in multiple formations. We are never alone in our sky, and must learn to share the common space with others who are flying in opposite directions. On the Tip of Our Wings, through its blend of square angles and oriented curvatures, celebrates the harmony of our infinite possibilities.