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'Flying Over Time' features pop art celebration of Lindbergh

August 31, 2009

The schoolyard saying, “takes one to know one,” could easily be the title of an upcoming exhibit of pop art featured at Arizona State University’s West campus.  After all, the three-day show focuses on a celebration of legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh and his flying machine, the Spirit of St. Louis, as seen through the eyes and mixed media artistry of Nova Hall, grandson of the plane’s designer, Donald A. Hall.

“Flying Over Time,” scheduled for Sept. 10-12 in the campus Second Stage West, brings to life the untold story of the team – Lindbergh and Hall – that built the customized, one-of-a-kind airplane in an astonishing 60 days during the spring of 1927.

Last semester, Hall’s exhibit was selected best in the arts category at the 2009 Undergraduate Research and Creative Projects Expo at the West campus.

“Art and aviation have always been my passion,” says Hall, a student in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences who is the author of “Spirit and Creator,” a photographic history of the design effort, the teamwork involved and the ultimate success of “Lindy’s” famous trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris.  “Now, with ASU’s support, I’m seeing a dream come true in this exhibit.  Because of this show, this history is being brought to life for my generation after 80 years.

“And, with the theater space and the lighting in Second Stage West, it should be even more dramatic and inspiring.”

Dramatic is certainly a word that could be used to describe the younger Hall’s journey into his family’s – and this country’s – history.  It’s a tale, in fact, that was the subject of a Learning Channel documentary.

“It was in 1999 and we were living in Sedona,” recalls the artist, who is on track to receive his B.A. in integrative studies from New College in May.  “We were moving and I was in the garage going through boxes, making decisions on what to keep, what to toss.  Behind a couple of boxes I found an old steamer trunk.”

The trunk, carrying the initials DAH, belonged to Hall’s granddad.  Inside was what Nova calls “A treasure trove of history.”  Blueprints of Hall’s collaboration with Lindbergh, thought to be long gone, along with photos and correspondence between the two were found inside the trunk.  It put him on a fast track into researching his grandfather’s historic work.

“What was inside the trunk became the basis for ‘Spirit and Creator,’” says Hall.  “There are pieces from the discovery that are now in museums in France and in other places.  Some were auctioned locally to get the book off the ground.

“The discovery became the book, the book became the art.”

Hall describes his artistic styling as a fusion between surrealism and pop art colors.  Almost all of his art features an element of collage, including one in which he has embedded an original headline recounting Lindbergh’s Paris landing from the front page of the May 21, 1927, New York Herald.

“My grandfather was a superb photographer in difficult conditions,” says Hall.  His fine black and white imagery is used extensively throughout my canvas and Japanese-style sumi-ink pieces.  He would bring his camera into his work studio every day in the early hours and take photographs of the work the crew had done on the plane the day before to document the progress of this 60-day miracle.

“His photographs and his collection offer me personal inspiration, insight into the life he lived, and particularly into the ‘visceral feeling’ of being at the epicenter of the golden age of aviation.”

Hall says the Sept. 10-12 exhibit is important because it reminds us anything is possible.

“The public needs to see this exhibit because of the simple assertion that was proven in 1927 – that together we can achieve anything, if we only have the fortitude, the spine, the passion to follow our dreams.  Big or small, these lessons are critical to our human existence.

“My grandfather and a young Charles Lindbergh took a chance.  They took a huge chance on a dream, and then they made it reality.  We need to remember these defining times in our history.  They help us maintain our hope and faith in the people around us and in those who came before us.”

“Flying Over Time” can be seen from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. on Sept. 10 and 11, and from 1 p.m.-4 p.m. on Sept. 12.  Admission is free.  Second Stage West is located on the basement level of the East Lobby of the University Center Building (UCB) on the West campus.  Additionally, Hall will be at the West campus bookstore to sign copies of his book, “Spirit and Creator,” from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Books will be available to purchase at the bookstore.

The campus is located at 4701 West Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.  Additional information is available at 602-543-5500.