New works honor Ohio aviation pioneers

By Maureen Schlangen

In a series of original watercolors now on display on the second floor of Roesch Library, a biology faculty member depicts three aviation milestones and four Ohio men who helped usher the world into air and space:

  • The first powered flight (Orville and Wilbur Wright).
  • The first American to orbit the earth (John Glenn).
  • The first person to set foot on the moon (Neil Armstrong).

In creating these paintings, David Wright, director of academic technology and curriculum innovation in the Ryan C. Harris Learning Teaching Center, said he was inspired by the aviators’ courage and spirit of exploration.

“They lifted us from the ground and took us into orbit and to the surface of the moon,” Wright said in his artist statement. “Ohio forms a backdrop in each picture, and the changing horizon documents how the Wright brothers, Glenn and Armstrong gave us new perspectives of the universe.”

Reminiscent of Armstrong connecting the first flight to the lunar landing by carrying a piece of fabric from the Wright Flyer I to the moon, Wright artistically connects the three pioneers and their achievements by using an identically curved horizon in each painting.

In Wright’s experience, art and science are likewise connected.

“Even though my training has always focused on the sciences, a good part of science is observing and oftentimes — at least in biology — capturing what is seen by drawing,” he said, adding that as a child, he appreciated both science and art. “I remember hanging out in the science exhibits at my hometown museum in Cardiff, Wales, and finding that the exhibits would lead into galleries with paintings — including those by J.M.W. Turner. But recently I have rediscovered the joy of painting as a way to relax when I can find time.”

Wright noted that April 16 marks the 150th anniversary of Wilbur Wright's birth.

“Having the pictures in a public spot is a nice way to recognize the incredible legacy of flight in Ohio,” he said.

Visitors can view Wright’s paintings during regular library hours on the second floor in the current periodicals reading area.

- Maureen Schlangen, E-scholarship and communications manager

Previous Post

When our moral courage is tested

Rachel Barnett, chair of the Libraries diversity and inclusion committee, writes in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Read on to learn more about events in Roesch Library throughout the month of January.

Read More
Next Post

Recommended reading: Black History Month

Lucy Fisher of the Libraries' diversity and inclusion committee recommends seven titles to honor Black History Month.

Read More