War and bloodshed run throughout human history. Since the end of the American Revolution in 1783, hardly a year has passed when the United States military has not been deployed at home or abroad, often for deadly ends. As we mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and ten years of the nebulous War on Terror, Behind Those Planes Are the Stars invites visitors to pause and consider why, as nations, we fight and kill, and how the grave decisions of those in power affect our individual lives.
The exhibition features works from the Tang Collection and Skidmore’s Special Collections by artists from the United States and England that address war, specifically its direct effect upon people. Spanning the eighteenth to twentieth centuries, the works range from etchings, photographs, and prints, to an actual ejection seat from a 1950s English nuclear bomber.
A special selection of original letters, photographs, and other ephemera highlights the military experience of Skidmore alumna Elizabeth F. Adams ’29, active as a volunteer in France during World War II, and later as a soldier in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps. By bringing together works from across time, Behind Those Planes Are the Stars aims to inspire dialogue on the nature of war and humanity’s chronic appetite for warfare.
Artists include William Hogarth (English, 1697-1764), Robert A. Parker (American, b. 1927), Larry Rivers (American, 1923-2002), and W. Eugene Smith (American, 1918-1978).