" Most people are quite surprised to find out that the airshow is the most highly attended event in the United States after baseball. About 27 million people flock to 300 air shows across America between March and November
First and foremost, I want my photographs to capture the romance and magic of flight
the air show provides the stage
" - David Freese
KINGSTON, RI - In a special exhibition timed to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic 1903 flight as "conquerors of the air," an exhibition of nearly 40 photographs by David Freese distilling the excitement of contemporary air shows will open this summer at the University of Rhode Island Fine Arts Center Galleries. The Wright Brothers' first flight could properly be considered the first air show, after all.
David Freese has been photographing air shows nationally since 1987. Air shows in which the Blue Angels (the U.S. Naval flight team) or the Thunderbirds (the U.S. Air Force team) participate require immense space for their soaring maneuvers and draw huge, appreciative crowds. Alternatively, civilian air shows are dense programs with many solo acts and acrobatic stunts. At any such events a subculture emerges - the environment of the passionate fans and pilots - and the performance in the air is their mutual fascination and attraction, including sustaining the attention of this talented photographer in his multiple photographic campaigns.
Freese is a Philadelphia based fine art photographer active in the American Society of Media Photographers and the Society for Photographic Education (SPE). He also teaches as an adjunct professor at Drexel University and elsewhere. Freese earned his B.S. from the University of Rochester, and attended Rochester Institute of Technology and N.Y.U. thereafter. His passion for the romance of flight has led him to photograph the world of aviation for three decades.
The large Corridor Gallery exhibition of Freese's photographs documents his experience with shows from the ground and also from the air itself (including one exhilarating flight in tight formation with an Italian Jet Team over New York Harbor). He imprints his aesthetic on photographs that favor echoing patterns, the surprise interpenetration of man-made structures on the ground and in the air and a certain painterly cloud cover providing environmental context for the aircrafts. At the same time, Freese's black and white images hover in a timeless zone, alluding and paying homage to masters in the history of aerial photography such as Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Edward Steichen and Steichen's Naval Aviation Unit during WWII.
One haunting image showing the former World Trade Center Twin Towers from the air gives shocking pause. Its sustained photographic moment congeals with the fragile temporal condition of life on earth as we have come so abruptly to know it. Looking back now at the never again soaring towers through Freese's lens suggests the ambitions of our high risk built environment and our aviation. Thoughts of Icarus are profoundly evoked.
Gallery Talk by the artist September 18, 4:00 p.m.