In his 1998 book Inside the Sky, William Langewiesche postulates that if one is exposed to viewing the world from the cockpit of a light plane and relatively low altitude, they are given a unique vision of space and that "it imposes a brutal honesty on our perceptions" of the world. Like Langewiesche, I grew up viewing the world from a light plane, flying with my father over much of the mid-west. I learned to "drive an airplane" long before I learned to drive an automobile. Many years later I did make my solo flight, but I never got my pilot's license.

However I fully agree with Langewiesche's opinion that "low and slow" flight gives one a unique perception of the world. One obvious impact is the view that most of America is divided into one mile squares. That arbitrary division has no regard for the physical condition of the topography it divides, nor the atmospheric conditions that exist above it and all pilots are very aware of the atmosphere that supports them.


Prairie Pieces

In the mid 1970's I was teaching at the Morris branch of the University of Minnesota and began a series of landscape pieces that I called "Prairie Pieces". Early versions were fabricated steel, but at the same time I was becoming involved with casting iron through my exposure to it by Wayne Potratz at the Minneapolis campus of the University. When I relocated to Houston and began teaching at Lamar University I continued with my fabrications, but when colleague Phil Fitzpatrick and I started an iron casting program at Lamar in 1980 I began casting the landscapes. I continue to cast iron pieces with Donnie Keen at Keen Foundry in Houston and have also used "stabilized Styrofoam".


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