Metal Hot Air Balloons and the Reason Why

Big Projects, Beginning to End, Inspiration, Lift, News from the Shop

I’ve been on a quest to create large metal hot air balloons for quite a while….and now thanks to the Scottsdale Public Art Program and YOU Lift is finally going to happen!

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3-D modeling of “Lift”.

The development of this piece stretches years and years into my past. This is a tricky aspect of this piece to talk about because its symbolism is rooted so deeply in my creative process. All the ideas, sketches, dreams, have been woven through time to form a fundamental truth that I’ve built my life on.

With art, I can fly.

This sounds plain, but sometimes truth is simple. My ideas carry me into the sky. Sharing my vision with you carries me higher.

 The hot air balloon became a symbol of all my hope, potential, and fearlessness as an artist when words themselves could no longer explain what I felt. For many, words would probably have worked just fine, but for us picture people (you know who you are out there) it just makes more sense to say it with an image. The hot air balloon became that image for me, a reminder of what I wanted to achieve. Weightlessness.

I played with the image of the hot air balloon, the idea. I built it and re-built it in my head. I designed it over and over again. In my sketch book. In a kids book. In countless public art proposals. The shape, the symbol grew and morphed, changed to accommodate the spaces I wanted to put it in.

The beauty of working with this form is that hot air balloons represent a lot of things to a lot of people. Some may think of them as playful, lighthearted, adventurous, even a little insane. All good adjectives for public art, in my opinion. The understanding of the piece quickly changed from focusing on what inspires me to why it could inspire others.

I believe Lift came from a place within myself that needed reminding that my dreams were worth pursuing and has become a symbol of fearless hope for others. I make art to share with people everywhere because I hope I can pass along a little piece of what inspired me. I hope I can grow that inspiration.

Because of my unyielding drive to lift the hot air balloons off the pages of my sketchbooks and sculpt them into large metal shapes and forms- big enough for people to move around and under, engage with- I continued applying to calls for art with them and soon gained the support of the Scottsdale Public Art Program! This provided the project a partnership with a fantastic arts organization and an incredible space to install the work. Both the arts community and hot air balloon culture are strong in Arizona, thus making this location an incredible first stop on what I hope will be a long journey.

This is the first large project I have raised funds to create. The Scottsdale Public Art Program has graciously awarded me a portion of the funding necessary to create this piece, but there is still a significant portion of the budget that is left unfilled. I am turning to Kickstarter to raise the support needed to make this happen. I hope you will take the time to watch my video and maybe even pass it along to a friend. I really need your help!!

Click on the picture:

kickstarter image

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I create large metal sculptures for public art, smaller items for you and your home, and teach hands on metal workshops in Gainesville, FL. Visit LeslieTharp.com