Key Ideas about this Work of Art
- This kinetic sculpture is made from stainless steel. It consists of five forms, each perched on top of a 25-foot-tall pole, that resemble abstracted airplane parts.
- The design was inspired by the aerial stunts practiced by Russian fighter pilots. The sculpture performs a similar stunt, spinning and flipping in response to the movement of the wind. The wind also enables the sculpture to make musical sounds. When the sculpture moves in the breeze, the bells attached to the beams begin to ring.
- For more than 30 years, Bill and Mary Buchen have worked together to create public art installations and interactive sound sculptures around the world. They collaborate to design works that combine art and music and encourage a sense of community. Their playground sculptures and “sonic architecture” invite people of all ages to play and participate in activities together.
- The Buchens have spent time with musicians from around the world. They learned from them how to create instruments that make musical sounds from many different cultures.
Flight Wind Reeds, by artists Mary and Bill Buchen, is a kinetic sculpture commissioned in 2003. The artwork’s five aluminum and stainless-steel, aerodynamic elements — each with brass bells — are references to the mechanics of flight and the abstracted parts of an airplane.
This work is the second in the Buchens’ series of kinetic sculptures, created after the artists took inspiration from the television images of Russian fighter pilots performing aerial stunts. The pilots would fly their planes up to 700 miles per hour and then, suddenly, cut the engines off, causing the planes to flip up and backward. The sleek, aerodynamic forms of the reeds are designed to mimic this kind of behavior; they perform a similar stunt in response to wind force, spinning and then flipping up.
Flight Wind Reeds makes visible the invisible — the motion, pace, sound, and physical energy of the wind. The sculpture also greets visitors approaching East and West buildings from the adjacent car lot or the Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park. It’s a fitting sight for those just arriving, as they might get the feeling of being whisked away to another world, venturing ahead to the art that awaits them.
Resources for Teachers
- Read an article about another art installation by the Buchens.
- Read an interview with the artists.
- Read an article about the artists’ musical sculptures.
Resources for Students