Michael Richards

Flight & Aviation

By the mid-1990s, flight and aviation had become the central themes of Richards’ practice. His artworks from this period took the form of sculptural airplanes and surreal winged appendages, incorporated imagery from the Greek myth of Icarus, and began to engage the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen. Richards was particularly drawn to the duality of flight in his work, writing that he viewed “the concept of flight both as freedom and surrender.” The resulting sculptures and drawings represent flight’s possibilities—escape, reprieve, transcendence—and its opposing potential for descent. In floor-bound installations of airplanes ensnared in barbed wire, a winged torso as fallen monument, and disembodied arms that clutch feathers while attempting to take-off, Richards displayed a reverence for flight itself and for its metaphoric capacity.