“It definitely takes a certain type of artist to do a project like this,” explains extreme mural and Boneyard artist Andrew Schoultz. “You have to be able to work big and fast, and most importantly make spontaneous quick decisions with what you are doing…”

 The latter merely hints at the extraordinary talent involved in the ‘Boneyard, Round Trip’ project. First devised in April 2011 by New York gallery owner Eric Firestone and curator Carlo McCormick, the project is a display of ex-military airplanes, sourced from junkyards in the Arizona desert that have been transformed into glorious and simply breathtaking works of art; ginormous, mobilised canvases if you will. At present the airplanes have found retreat at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, however Firestone has imminent plans to display the works in Miami and – fingers crossed – London next year.

“The ultimate underlying thing for me was to capture the public’s imagination,” Firestone tells VELOUR. “The military has, for the last 60/70 years used Arizona as an area for planes to retire, mothball and die; the yards are becoming part of a desolate culture. With the price of scrap metal being so high in the last few years, the planes are becoming cannibalised and so I have saved them and given them a new context,” he enthuses. “I was fascinated with how artwork has been used on so many modes of transport; these forgotten planes obviously don’t fly anymore and the only way for people to see and enjoy them again is to physically take the planes to the people.”                                       

It is only when one sees an image or video clip of the airplanes fully transformed, that the level of work and expertise is recognised; the planes were firstly painted white and then extensive stencils were constructed to bring some of the street and graffiti artists’ vision to life. Nifty skills of handy-work aided completion of the designs. “My initial idea was to cover the entire airplane with layers and layers of spinning eyes,” details Schoultz. “My plane is a retired CIA spy plane so this motif made perfect sense. The colour palette is more or less red, white and blue: the colours of USA. I found this to be a good reference along with symbols that I have developed in my work over the past 10 years.”

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“The project keeps the idea of art and aviation history alive and evolving,” adds Patrick Miller of artistic duo Faile. “Our plane features wings conceived from a previous piece we did called ‘Star Spangled Shadows’: an American flag where the stripes have been replaced with a pattern inspired by Pima Indian Basketry. This gave the plane a sort of re-imagined history that played on an alternate model of the past.”

In total, over 30 artists contributed to the project, each bringing something unique to a forgotten giant. “We all have a sense of what an airplane should look like and that’s why it’s so extraordinary to see the finished product in person,” Miller adds. “…To walk around and peak inside these relics of the past that have been transformed into contemporary art? It’s an artist’s dialogue that will hopefully grow into a new generation.”

Firestone hopes to display the work in Midtown Miami later this year, with great enthusiasm to bring the planes to London: “I still have a lot more to say with this project,” he exclaims to VELOUR. “The European audience has such a liberal thought process and with the imagination of the world, there is opportunity for this art to go global.”

By Rebecca Emily Stevens