Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love is in the Air


Love comes in many forms. It is present within our relationships, our friendships, but also our passions. The life and career of American pilot and World War II commander Nancy Harkness Love illustrates the transformative nature of such passion.
Nancy fell in love very early in life with the idea of flight and her parents encouraged her interests. At thirteen, Nancy left home to study abroad in Europe. While there, Nancy witnessed a true moment in aviation history. Amongst a group of ten thousand, Nancy patiently waited hours on the East side of Le Bourget airfield in Paris. In the sky, a white gray plane flew overhead slowly descending to the ground. The landing lights glared and flooded the field until the plane finally gently rested on the ground in front of Nancy. In that moment, Captain Charles Lindbergh emerged from the plane having just completed his first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Three years later, at the age of sixteen, Nancy was issued a private pilot’s license and began creating her own aviation history.


During her time as a pilot, Nancy established a successful Boston-based aviation company, participated in National air races, and helped ferry an airplane from the United States to France. Most notably, during World War II, Love led all ferrying operations for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) an aviation organization assembled of female pilots, who were tasked with the responsibility of flying military aircrafts as instructed by the United States Air Forces.[1]


Under her command, female pilots flew almost every type of military aircraft then in the air. Her leadership and passion for flight were instrumental in the success of the organization. For her service, Nancy received an Air Medal award in honor of her meritorious flying and leadership. Before her passing in 1976, Nancy strongly maintained relationships with the women she had commanded and worked with through WASP considering them some of the most important people in her life. These friends and family had been a part of her passion of flight and remained unwavering vestiges of the love she found through her work.

Holly Trostle Brigham, WASP Bea I. Wolf, 2012,

The aviation history that Love created is forefront in Holly Trostle Brigham’s piece WASP Bea I. Wolf featured in Holly Trostle Brigham: Dis/Guise. Brigham’s piece focused on the untold history of the WASPs. Specifically, in the painting, Brigham imagines herself a woman in flight. Painted to resemble a black and white photograph, the piece takes on a historical imagery emphasizing the absent significance and legacy of the organization. In the sixteen months the WASP unit existed, more than 25,000 women applied for training; and of these over a thousand were accepted and successfully completed the program.[2] Yet, upon the disbanding of the program, these women waited over thirty years to receive combat veteran status and eligibility benefits. Thus, Brigham’s piece attempts to honor these women and rectify the neglect of the past. We remember and celebrate their achievements on Nancy Harkness Love's birthday, Valentine's Day, how fitting?  Holly Trostle Brigham: Dis/Guise will be on view at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery until February 28th.

To learn more about these courageous women pilots and the WASPs you can listen to their story here.

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Covering exhibits at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery and giving you a peek into the Permanent Collection of the George Washington University.

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Howard Hodgkin: Paintings - May 16, 2012

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Love is in the Air


Love comes in many forms. It is present within our relationships, our friendships, but also our passions. The life and career of American pilot and World War II commander Nancy Harkness Love illustrates the transformative nature of such passion.
Nancy fell in love very early in life with the idea of flight and her parents encouraged her interests. At thirteen, Nancy left home to study abroad in Europe. While there, Nancy witnessed a true moment in aviation history. Amongst a group of ten thousand, Nancy patiently waited hours on the East side of Le Bourget airfield in Paris. In the sky, a white gray plane flew overhead slowly descending to the ground. The landing lights glared and flooded the field until the plane finally gently rested on the ground in front of Nancy. In that moment, Captain Charles Lindbergh emerged from the plane having just completed his first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Three years later, at the age of sixteen, Nancy was issued a private pilot’s license and began creating her own aviation history.


During her time as a pilot, Nancy established a successful Boston-based aviation company, participated in National air races, and helped ferry an airplane from the United States to France. Most notably, during World War II, Love led all ferrying operations for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) an aviation organization assembled of female pilots, who were tasked with the responsibility of flying military aircrafts as instructed by the United States Air Forces.[1]


Under her command, female pilots flew almost every type of military aircraft then in the air. Her leadership and passion for flight were instrumental in the success of the organization. For her service, Nancy received an Air Medal award in honor of her meritorious flying and leadership. Before her passing in 1976, Nancy strongly maintained relationships with the women she had commanded and worked with through WASP considering them some of the most important people in her life. These friends and family had been a part of her passion of flight and remained unwavering vestiges of the love she found through her work.

Holly Trostle Brigham, WASP Bea I. Wolf, 2012,

The aviation history that Love created is forefront in Holly Trostle Brigham’s piece WASP Bea I. Wolf featured in Holly Trostle Brigham: Dis/Guise. Brigham’s piece focused on the untold history of the WASPs. Specifically, in the painting, Brigham imagines herself a woman in flight. Painted to resemble a black and white photograph, the piece takes on a historical imagery emphasizing the absent significance and legacy of the organization. In the sixteen months the WASP unit existed, more than 25,000 women applied for training; and of these over a thousand were accepted and successfully completed the program.[2] Yet, upon the disbanding of the program, these women waited over thirty years to receive combat veteran status and eligibility benefits. Thus, Brigham’s piece attempts to honor these women and rectify the neglect of the past. We remember and celebrate their achievements on Nancy Harkness Love's birthday, Valentine's Day, how fitting?  Holly Trostle Brigham: Dis/Guise will be on view at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery until February 28th.

To learn more about these courageous women pilots and the WASPs you can listen to their story here.

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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
"Found In Collection" or simply "FIC" is the way many museums classify the more mysterious items in their possession that have little or no documentation. Here at the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery of the George Washington University, we do keep extensive records of our collection, but some of the items we come across in academic buildings or our own storage can leave us wondering. This blog is an effort to showcase some of the more curious examples and their stories, and to provide a glimpse of the great variety of art pieces within the collection. To learn more about the Brady Gallery's history, recent exhibitions, or the George Washington University, take a look at the links below.

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