Skip to main content

Flight Wind Reeds (work of art)

Artwork Info

Created
2003
Nationality
American
Birth/Death
born 1949, born 1948-
Dimensions
Five elements, each approximately 25 feet (7.62 meters)

Credit

Commissioned by the North Carolina Museum of Art with funds from the North Carolina State Art Society (Robert F. Phifer Bequest)

Culture
American

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.

Learn More

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.

Additional Resources

Resources for Teachers

 

Resources for Students

Images

  • An outdoor image of a grassy lawn with five metal posts lining a curved sidewalk. Each post supports a curved beam with a winged form attached at the top on one side, and a small bell is suspended from the other side.

    Flight Wind Reeds

  • An outdoor image of a grassy lawn with five metal posts lining a curved sidewalk. Each post supports a curved beam with a winged form attached at the top on one side, and a small bell is suspended from the other side.

    Flight Wind Reeds