The impact of one individual’s life on others may be profound. Such was the case with Edwin M. Schmidt (1910-2002), whose impression on the hearts of two longtime Terre Haute residents, William and Judith Brett, led them to honor his life with an Art Spaces sculpture. The Bretts asked that the sculpture symbolize freedom, the uplifting transformation from a physical to a spiritual realm. Based on a personal experience related to their loss, a bird in flight best captured this theme.
Obie Simonis conceived On the Wings of Flight after meeting with Bill and Judy. He embraced their idea with these words: My intention with this composition is to promote a sense of grace, hope and inspiration… On the Wings of Flight is an ascent. It depicts stages of transformation from the material to the spiritual… The lowest section of the work, a solid earthly form, transitions to transparent line/form, and then rises to a form mirroring the sky. Stages of transition from the earth to weightlessness culminate in a reflective piece that becomes one with the sky.
Evoking “weightlessness” in a solid material like stainless steel, with a complex design involving interweaving curving forms, demanded precise engineering. KIVA Structural Engineers, a Terre Haute company that has engineered most of the Art Spaces sculptures, proved the ideal partner for the artist in achieving the desired result.
On the Wings of Flight rises elegantly from a grassy hill in Terre Haute’s popular eastside 177-acre Deming Park, where thousands of pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists, and runners will view it each week.
In this sculpture, spirit meets matter, and nature and art combine forces to offer new experiences daily, as the colors and changing light of the surroundings are reflected in the upper surface of polished stainless steel. On the Wings of Flight may entice viewers to consider other individuals’ importance to their own lives, or simply to contemplate nature’s interplay with art.
Stainless Steel, 2015
14′ high, 7′ 2″ wide, 3′ deep
Located in Deming Park, 500 S. Fruitridge Avenue.
Obie Simonis lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
In honor of Edwin M. Schmidt (1910-2002).
Art Spaces gratefully acknowledges William and Judith Brett.