“In Plane View,” an exhibition of 56 large-format photographs by Carolyn Russo showcasing the aesthetic quality of some of the National Air and Space Museum’s iconic aircraft, will be on display Sept. 2 through Nov. 28 at Challenger Space Center Arizona, 21170 N. 83rd Ave., Peoria.

“This is a stunning exhibit and it will kick off our new, expanded hours of operation, so that we can serve the public seven days a week and continue to fulfill our mission as a space science museum that is family friendly,” said Kari Sliva, executive director of Challenger Space Center.

Starting Sept. 4, the Challenger Center museum will open to the public on Sundays, and from that day forward will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This will not affect school field trips and certain special programs, which sometimes begin prior to 10 a.m. during the week.

The center will have family activities each weekend associated with the exhibit, such as science projects that explore the forces of flight (lift, gravity, thrust and drag). Children will make and fly paper airplanes and make a Roto-Copter that helps illustrate those forces and shows how two opposing thrusts cause a propeller to spin.

The center will offer military personnel complimentary admission for the duration of the “In Plane View” exhibit, through Nov. 28.

“The exhibit spans the time period of Sept. 11, as well as Veterans Day, so we wanted to do something special to honor those who have served and do serve in our armed forces,” Sliva said.

Regular admission to the center is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (55 and older) and military, $5 for students (ages 4-18) and free for ages 3 and under and members. For information go to www.azchallenger.org or call 623-322-2001.

With close-up facets, sculptural forms and life-like elements, “In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight” directs viewers’ attention to the often overlooked, simple elegance of aircraft design. Russo exposes the bold colors, textures, shapes and patterns that characterize diverse flying machines and, with her lens, transforms technology into art.

Due to its size, the exhibit will be displayed at Challenger Center on a rotating basis throughout the exhibit dates.

It is divided into five categories — Speed, Bursts, Movement; Flora, Fauna and Anthropomorphism; Graphics; Textures and Skin; and Propellers — which occasionally overlap. Russo’s photographs reveal different layers of meaning through their unconventional representations of well-known air- and spacecraft. In combination with quotes from pioneers, pilots, poets and other artists whose words resonate with these images, Russo’s work evokes the beauty, wonder, excitement and thrill associated with flight. A companion book with an introduction and essays by art historian Anne Collins Goodyear and foreword by Wagstaff is available from powerHouse Books.

“Carolyn Russo has managed to take the overall beauty I see in airplanes — and spacecraft and other artifacts of flight — and frame their art in pieces rather than as whole subjects,” said Patty Wagstaff, three-time National Aerobatic Champion, in her foreword to the exhibit’s accompanying book. “It’s an abstract approach that gives new life even to the most familiar icon.”

Among the featured artifacts are:

• Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis

• Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird

• Lockheed 5B Vega

• Mercury Friendship 7

• Space Shuttle Enterprise

• Extra 260

• Northrop Gamma Polar Star

• Langley Aerodrome A

• Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia

• Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay

• Boeing 307 Stratoliner Clipper Flying Cloud

• 1903 Wright Flyer

• Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis

The “In Plane View” exhibit was made possible with in-kind donations from Epson USA Inc., The National Museum of the Marine Corps, Smithsonian Affiliations, Bogen Imaging Inc. and a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. 

Locally, the exhibit is made possible through partnerships with the city of Peoria and SRP.

“In Plane View” premiered at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and was on display from March 21, 2008, through January, 2009. The National Air and Space Museum, composed of the flagship building on the National Mall in Washington and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., is home to the world’s finest collection of flight artifacts. From aircraft and space vehicles to engines, art and models, the wide array of the museum’s holdings tells the story of the history and technology of air and space exploration. The museum is also a key resource for research into the history, science and technology of aviation and space flight.

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