(PITTSFIELD, Mass., March 7, 2012) – Berkshire Museum will present David Henderson: A Brief History of Aviation, from March 10 through May 13, 2012, featuring an installation of architectural sculpture of artist David Henderson in the Ellen Crane Memorial Room. An artist’s reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 10; the event is free and open to the public.
The large-scale, curvilinear components of Henderson’s installation, configured differently in each venue where they are exhibited, were inspired by the beautifully complex fan vaulting of the sixteenth-century cathedral called Bath Abbey in England. Fan vaulting is a Gothic architectural element first used in the twelfth century. Imbued with a spare beauty, the converging curved ribs of each fan-like section form sweeping shapes reminiscent of spread wings, combining strength and delicacy.
“The fan vaulting was only used in a few cathedrals in England, probably because it was quite complex, geometrically,” David Henderson explains. “It’s extraordinary that someone could build something like this in the twelfth century. My idea was to take the structure out of the religious context and see what it would do in a normal context, made out of different materials.”
Henderson creates his fan shapes from materials and methods that are used in building ultra-light aircraft. The ribs of foam are wrapped with fiberglass and the assembled structures are skinned with Dacron fabric, heat-shrunk for a perfectly smooth fit. The work is planned on a computer and then meticulously hand-crafted; the segments of the piece have to be constructed with precision.
“Man’s interest in birds, and particularly their ability to fly, has been a long standing fascination. Man has made various attempts, successfully and not, through recorded history to imitate (and possibly achieve) our feathered friends’ ability to take flight,” says Maria Mingalone, the museum’s director of interpretation and curator. “We have invited David Henderson to show his piece A Brief History of Aviation at Berkshire Museum at this time because of how well it complements our current exhibition Taking Flight: Audubon and the World of Birds.”
Henderson’s work has been shown at galleries and in museums across the United States: “A History of Aviation – Part 2” was exhibited at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2011; and “A Brief History of Aviation” was shown in 2010 at Queensborough Community College in New York and most recently at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.
Henderson has had recent solo shows at Knoedler Project Space, New York, New York (2008); Richmond Center for the Arts, Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan (2008); Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Summit, New Jersey (2007); Michael Steinberg Fine Arts, New York, New York (2006); Kristen Frederickson Contemporary, New York, New York (2003); Hampden Gallery, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts (2002); and in 2001, Gomez Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland.
His work has been exhibited in numerous group shows as well as permanent installations at Pratt Sculpture Park, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Long Island University, CW Post Campus, N.Y.; and Grand Summit Hotel, Summit, N.J..
Henderson, who lives and works in Brooklyn, graduated from Bard College and holds an MFA from Columbia University.
Berkshire Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit Berkshire Museum or call 413.443.7171. Museum admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Members and children aged three and under enjoy free admission.
The Museum is located at 39 South Street on Route 7 in downtown Pittsfield. Berkshire Museum is the first public museum in Berkshire County, established by Zenas Crane in 1903 as a museum of art and natural history. Taking Flight: Audubon and the World of Birds is on view through June 17, 2012. Bryan Nash Gill: Beyond the Landscape is on view through May 28. Little Cinema is now open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Aquarium, Alexander Calder Gallery, and other exhibits are ongoing.