"In Plane View" Photography Exhibit Runs Through January 2009

Press Release

Monday, January 7, 2008 (All day)

Media Inquiries

Isabel Lara, 202-633-2374, larai@si.edu

Public Inquiries


“In Plane View,” an exhibition of 56 large-format photographs by Carolyn Russo showcasing the aesthetic quality of some of the National Air and Space Museum’s iconic aircraft, will be on display March 21, 2008 through Jan. 2, 2009. With close-up facets, sculptural forms and life-like elements, “In Plane View” directs viewers’ attention to the often-overlooked simple elegance of aircraft design. Russo exposes the bold colors, textures, shapes and patterns that characterize diverse flying machines and, with her lens, transforms technology into art.

“Carolyn Russo has managed to take the overall beauty I see in airplanes –and spacecraft and other artifacts of flight—and frame their art in pieces rather than as whole subjects,” said Patty Wagstaff, three-time National Aerobatic Champion, in her foreword to the exhibit’s accompanying book. “It’s an abstract approach that gives new life even to the most familiar icon.”

The exhibit is divided into five categories—Speed, Bursts, Movement; Flora, Fauna and Anthropomorphism; Graphics; Textures and Skin; and Propellers—which occasionally overlap. Russo’s photographs reveal different layers of meaning through their unconventional representations of well-known air- and spacecraft. In combination with quotes from pioneers, pilots, poets and other artists whose words resonate with these images, Russo’s work evokes the beauty, wonder, excitement and thrill associated with flight. A companion book with an introduction and essays by art historian Anne Collins Goodyear and foreword by Wagstaff is available from powerHouse Books.

The exhibit will tour after the premiere at the National Air and Space Museum.

Among the featured artifacts are the following:

  • Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis
  • Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird
  • Lockheed 5B Vega
  • Mercury Friendship 7
  • Space Shuttle Enterprise
  • Extra 260
  • Northrop Gamma Polar Star
  • Langley Aerodrome A
  • Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay
  • Boeing 307 Stratoliner Clipper Flying Cloud
  • 1903 Wright Flyer
  • Ryan NYP Spirit of St. Louis

The “In Plane View” exhibit was made possible with generous in-kind donations from Epson USA Inc., The National Museum of the Marine Corps, Smithsonian Affiliations, Bogen Imaging Inc. and a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee. 

The National Air and Space Museum building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is located at Sixth Street and Independence Avenue S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center— home to a number of historic commercial airplanes, including a Concorde, the Boeing Model 307 Stratoliner and the “Dash 80” original prototype for the Boeing 707—is located in Chantilly, Va., near Washington Dulles International Airport. Both facilities are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Closed Dec. 25) Admission is free, but there is a $12 fee for daily parking at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

  • In Plane View: Pitts Special S-1C Little Stinker

    The single-piece wing with a racy sunburst paint scheme evoked speed and agility to the spectators and judges watching from the ground. The 6.5-degree sweep to the wing added stability to the tiny aircraft and allowed the pilot to access to the cockpit more easily.

  • In Plane View: Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat Conquest 1

    The cowling is the same vivid yellow as the rest of this racing airplane. To allow the big four-bladed prop to clear the ground, the Bearcat had to have tall main retractable landing gear.

  • In Plane View: SpaceShipOne

    Many circular windows are used in SpaceShipOne's innovative design. The air pressure stresses on multiple smaller windows are less than on a single long windshield. The thin curved line marks the circular cockpit hatch.