Wylie: Przybille takes wing

Kelowna artist was struck by the transformative power of intention, belief and will in the invention of and trials with ornithopters.

Throughout our years lived on this planet, many things turn out to be the opposite from what we had anticipated, and so we learn not to judge a book by its cover.

And so it is with the airplane. Who has boarded a big jumbo jet without it ever entering their mind how unlikely it seems that a huge heavy metal beast is actually going to take off into the sky! So for hundreds of years, people who yearned to fly as birds do would attempt to do so by creating strap-on wings of various sorts. It took a huge leap of imagination to instead create a flying machine that we could get inside of and drive in order to achieve lift off.

Przybille's Wish

Kelowna-based artist Crystal Przybille has been cogitating on the notion of flight in order to create her commissioned work for the Kelowna Art Gallery at our satellite space at the Kelowna International Airport. She was struck by what she terms the transformative power of intention, belief and will in the invention of and trials with early mechanical wings, known as ornithopters. Her work of art, aptly titled Wish, pays tribute to these old inventions.

The piece consists of two wing-like sculptures, the infrastructure of which is made from milled aluminum, and the feathers from thin wood, rubbed with natural substances to create their beautifully modulated brown colour. These elements are connected with a trailing red silk ribbon, which floats down onto a wooden ledge installed by the artist behind the glass barriers of the art wall.

The ribbon bubbles and undulates, looking very much like a narrow river of flowing blood. In her thinking about creating this work the artist also drew upon a recent experience attending a First Nations’ brushing ceremony that included the use of eagle wings.

Przybille is a thoughtful and painstaking artist. No aspect was left to chance in this installation; every detail had been carefully considered.

She works in a representational manner, whether in painting or sculpture. Her work is deeply emotionally expressive, but this is held in check, and conveyed by subtle means. There is nothing forced or bombastic about her work.

Przybille received her BFA from the University of Victoria via Okanagan University College in Kelowna in 1997. She has several successful public art commissions to her credit, including a large bronze statue of Father Pandosy (located at the Pandosy Mission historical site on Benvoulin Road in Kelowna), and an outdoor, multi-site, multi-piece work titled The Hands of Time, commemorating the sesquicentennial of the City of Victoria. She is currently working on a sculptural commission for Westbank First Nation depicting Chief Sookinchute, who was a contemporary of Father Pandosy.

Przybille’s Wish will be on view at the Kelowna International Airport until Nov. 3.