Artists use discarded military planes as canvas

February 1, 2013


Forget about staring at a blank canvas. More than 30 artists had something much bigger and much more imposing to stare at — discarded military aircraft left to die and rust in the desert of Arizona’s “bone yards.”

Contemporary artists used World War II aircraft as their canvas in “The Bone Yard Project: Return Trip,” which was displayed at the Pima Air & Space Museum in 2012. But the project goes back to 2010 when first conceived by Eric Firestone and organized by curator Carlo McCormick. “The Bone Yard Project: Nose Job,” featuring nose cone art, made its debut in 2011.

In a video on the Bone Yard Projects website, McCormick said he was intrigued by the idea of taking random elements, rescued from the scrap heap, and having artists use them as very large canvases.

“I wanted to give the people who lived in these communities a chance to understand what they were throwing away and what was rotting in their backyard,” McCormick said, noting the project was meant to engage people who care about these old planes.

Artist Andrew Schoultz acknowledged some anxiousness about the project in the same video, and said he worried if he would be able to pull it off in the manner he wanted to. “But the reality of doing it really didn’t sink in until you’re standing on the wing of a plane...”

It was also challenging, especially since some of the things you must paint are upside down. “Gravity and paint aren’t friends,” Schoultz said.

But the repurposed planes and parts are proof that even something no longer wanted has value. Click to view the finished works.