Taking Flight: Light as a Feather

New sculpture design lifts off

“Taking Flight: Light as a Feather” is a 31-foot-high, 14,000-pound sculpture resembling a feather floating to the ground that is scheduled to be installed by 2022. Designed by artists Lesley Chang and Jason Klimoski, the sculpture also includes 276 integrated fiber optics with LED lamps to illuminate the piece at night.

In 2009, the City of Oklahoma City passed a city ordinance requiring one percent of construction budgets for buildings and parks be allocated to public art. The $692,629 project budget for “Taking Flight: Light as a Feather” is funded through the 1% for Arts ordinance.

Good public art has depth to it – there is more to consider and absorb as you view and think about it. The more meaning, the more interpretation, the better it is to mean different things to different people. A good piece of public art also feels like an anchor for a place. It feels like no other piece of art would have been right, like the artwork and place were destined to be together.

I think the Scissortail Park feather sculpture will be a great public art piece for downtown Oklahoma City.  

This piece is as if a storybook tale of a giant bird flew over a city and one of its fine, large and soft white feathers wafted down from the sky and touched down for a moment before being lifted back up by the Oklahoma winds to continue on its breezy and jaunty journey. The feather represents motion, uplift, and flight, made all the more interesting by its unmapped route. It lets the wind take it in a “wherever you go, there you are” kind of understanding and play.   

Lift, momentum, upward movement, flight. Hmmm. What city does this remind you of?

Not so lightweight, a feather contains multiples. Its light side is upward lift. Its downside is the Icarus tale of feathers falling to the ground when hubris blinds us to danger. Rising and falling. Extravagant and humble. Art and science. All are contained in the feather.    

Feathers have a rich association with Native American tribes. In art and ceremony, feathers are prominent and appreciated for their seemingly mystical strength though lightness. Feathers represent freedom, strength, wisdom and trust. Feathers. Their beauty, luxuriant colors and feel are theatrical, fascinating and spirit-like. Feathers enable flight that provide loftier perspectives. Feathered dreamcatchers catch dreams that weigh us down.   

“Hope is the thing with feathers,” wrote poet Emily Dickenson. A link between earth and sky. Finding a feather on the ground is like finding a totemic or a clue. Finding a feather is considered good luck. 

Such a lightweight thing is not so lightweight.

Maureen Heffernan
CEO
Scissortail Park Foundation
Myriad Gardens Foundation

 

Special thanks to Robbie Kienzle and Randy Marks in the City of Oklahoma City’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, Independent Curator Jennifer Scanlon and our entire selection committee for their work and time to help make this selection.

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