"A Parachute Story "
A military parachute packing contract and art; an unlikely combination.
I had seen a photo of stunt pilot Skippy Smith in full outfit while researching local African American history [for Wakeland housing’s latest development, Lillian Place. This ball park area low income housing includes the art piece “A San Diego African American Legacy” by Jihmye Collins and Nina Karavasiles. Could I describe a full life story in one object? Could I capture a viewers attention with real life detail strongly enough to get them to take the time to read about San Diego’s history?. I needed to find THAT parachute. I needed to take a life cast from it to bring the actual texture to the viewer. You could never touch a fabric parachute in a museum. What would it be like to touch it in bronze? Mooney Jones and Stokes, our collaborators in historic research gave detailed information from their comprehensive “CCDC San Diego African-American Heritage Study 2004” I went to the Aerospace Museum, to the Veteran’s Museum, pawn shops and antique stores. Close, but not it. Having no idea that military parifinealia was so collectable, I went to E-Bay. Amazingly enough I found not just a parachute from the time frame, not just a similar one that would need repair, but one from THE factory, and the bidding began. Panicked that someone else would get what I had to have, the price went up. Tension grew in the final moments, me with dial up internet. I crash. Hands wringing. My reload takes 3 hours. No, it just felt like that. The screen illuminates, yes it was mine! A happy ending for me, the art piece and the community. Jihmye Collins is the painter in this collaboration and he has created what we are calling the ‘snapshots’. He has taken many images, including the one of Skippy, and made montages in octagonal forms. These delicate paintings were transformed into enamel on metal for exposure to the elements.