Elizabeth Berrien · World Class Wire Sculpture and Illustration · (707)445-4931 · RESTORING LOUISVILLE AIRPORT PEGASUS
elizabeth berrien's bbc wire sculpture illustration wins the Clio award 2008.
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Wire Sculptor Conserves Louisville Pegasus Landmark

Wire sculptor Elizabeth Berrien of Eureka, California just completed a fascinating project: removal, conservation and storage of her life-sized Pegasus sculpture at Louisville International Airport in Kentucky while the terminal undergoes renovation.
airport pegasus wire sculpture Commissioned in 1985 by James F. 'Buddy' Thompson, then president of the airport authority's board of directors, Berrien created the winged horse sculpture during her artist-in-residency at Marine World/Africa USA. She recalls, 'I wove it from aluminum welding rods with my bare hands, outdoors and under a wide blue sky. Louisville is the home of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, so Buddy wanted a racehorse Pegasus. As I twisted the rods together, I envisioned Pegasus soaring across the sky above me. It seemed natural to give it eagle's wings.'
Berrien was flown to Louisville to assist in Pegasus' installation, suspended beneath a glass skylight and floating above the escalators. 'I was totally unprepared for the excitement it caused; my mission was simply to combat travel fatigue by giving folks something pretty to look at. I had no idea of the heavy emotional impact it would make. They told me the sculpture changed the flow of foot traffic within the terminal. Some passengers became so mesmerized viewing it, they forgot to catch their flights. And they didn't even mind!'

Pegasus became an instantaneous landmark. Having granted the airport permission to use it as their corporate logo, Berrien returned to find the image everywhere, even on the sides of airport vehicles and crew's jackets and caps. Berrien was presented with an enamel pin bearing the image of her work.

Eighteen years after creating Pegasus, Berrien returned to Louisville. 'On my way to baggage claim, I bumped into a camera crew setting up to document the sculpture's removal. They grabbed me and put me in front of the camera, and my work week pretty much kept up at that pace.'

Berrien consulted as airport crew carefully maneuvered a cherry picker to retrieve the Pegasus from the heights. The sculpture was then strung from a cross-arm frame in a hangar-like space. There it received a thorough cleaning. Then Elizabeth started to wire. 'When I first made it, this was a fine 3-D horse, with 2-D wings. But a problem arose when the airport wanted to shift the work. At its location over the escalators, it was too awkward to reposition the wings to their correct upright carriage, so they ended up flopping down like a sea gull's.

The Airport Authority contracted Berrien to reinforce the sculpture and give the wings more rigidity for future handling. 'This is where an additional 18 years experience as a wire sculptor really came through. I took one look at my Pegasus and recognized both the problem and the solution. When I first created it, I knew horses but had only tried a few birds. Now I've done enough eagles, herons, swans etc. to understand the structure Nature gives birds to support and propel their wings. I wove and twisted those same elements along the leading edge of Pegasus' wings, which are now strong, beautiful and properly 3-D.
airport pegasus wire sculpture
Pegasus in storage, waiting while the terminal is renovated
When not working on Pegasus, Berrien wove special Pegasus ornaments for airport staff. The Marriott Inn invited her to submit a proposal for atrium sculptures, and she had conversations with Louisville gallery owners and art association about upcoming exhibits. 'They're surprised to find I make smaller sculpture too, not just landmarks and monuments.'
Berrien's one disappointment was developing laryngitis, which kept her from working with art students. She hopes to make up the date when she returns to Louisville next year. Ascending the escalator to catch her flight home, she heard, 'Hey, where'd the Pegasus go?' from another traveler. 'Following her gaze upward, I saw empty cables dangling where Pegasus had been. I told her don't worry, it's just taking an extended flight, it'll be back in the spring'
World Class Wire Sculpture · Elizabeth Berrien (707) 445-4931 · email wireladye@yahoo.com

Content and images © 1968-2009 Elizabeth Berrien. All rights reserved. · Updated Aug 22, 2009 · this page valid HTML 4.01

elizabeth berrien's bbc wire sculpture illustration wins the Clio award 2008.
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