*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Creativity is freedom’s most primal expression, though not the freedom we were sold under the banner of democracy. True freedom is less a license to do as one pleases than the power to be what one has no choice but to be, the capacity to follow one’s own inmost desire. It is the freedom Nina Simone compares in “Feeling Good” to the shining of a star, a fish swimming in the sea, or the scent of a pine.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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A: I learned to fly at a small airport in Caldwell, NJ. Flying is expensive and since I didn’t have much money, I sought a job at Liberty Aviation, the local flight school, in exchange for flying lessons. For every three hours I worked, I earned a flying lesson. At the time it cost $25/hour to rent a plane, plus $10/hour for an instructor, and I was fortunate to find an excellent flight instructor who offered to teach me for free.
After I completed ground school at Clifton High School, I took my first flying lesson. It was on April 1, 1978 in a (two-seat) Cessna 150. During the following months I flew every chance I could, in Cessna 150s and newer Cessna 152s, and also occasionally in Piper Cherokees. On September 24, 1978 I received my private pilot’s license.
Then I got checked-out in a larger (four-seat) Cessna 172. For my instrument training I flew Cessna 150s and 172s. I received my instrument rating in April 1979.
Next I trained for a commercial pilot’s license and a multi-engine rating. I flew Cessna 172s and a twin-engine Piper Seminole and obtained my license and rating in May 1980.
In December 1980 I began Boeing 727 flight engineer training at Flight International in Atlanta, GA. Most of this was in Boeing-727 flight simulators with Delta airline pilots as instructors. My check-ride was in a Boeing-727 owned by FedEx. I received my flight engineer’s certificate in February 1981. At the time I was the only woman in the entire school!
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Q: Please speak about your background as a Naval officer and aviator and how that has informed your sensibility as an artist.
A: At the age of 25 I got my private pilot’s license before spending the next two years amassing thousands of hours of flight time as I earned every flying license and rating I could, ending with a Boeing-727 flight engineer certificate. I joined the Navy when I was 29. I used to think that the 7 years I spent on active duty were wasted – during those 7 years I should have been working on my art – but I see things differently now. The Navy taught me to be disciplined, to be goal-oriented and focused, to love challenges, and in everything I do, to pay attention to the details. Trying to make it as an artist in New York is nothing BUT challenges so these qualities serve me well, whether I’m creating paintings, shooting and printing photographs, or trying to understand the art business and keep up with social media. I enjoy spending long solitary hours working to become a better artist. I am meticulous about craft and will not let a work out of my studio or out of the darkroom until it is as good as I can make it.
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