Campus News

UB Art Galleries take to the sky for latest project

Promotional image of skywriting for Kim Beck's "There Here" project.

Spectators are urged to take their own photographs of the skywritten arrows and post them to social media with the tag #ubskywriting and #ubwanderlust.


Published July 31, 2017 This content is archived.


You’ll have to look to the sky along the Buffalo waterfront between Canalside and the Peace Bridge for artist Kim Beck’s new project “There Here,” presented by the UB Art Galleries.

Commissioned as part of the galleries’ upcoming exhibition “Wanderlust: Actions, Traces, Journeys 1967-2017,” “There Here” will take place between 6-7 p.m. Aug. 19 — rain date is Aug. 20. In the event, a skywriter will draw arrows pointing to the U.S.-Canadian border along the Niagara River. Beck will photograph the arrows and then feature them on 10 billboards that will be scattered throughout the city beginning on Sept. 11.

A series of Beck’s photographs also will be on view in the UB Anderson Gallery as part of “Wanderlust,” opening Sept. 7 in the Anderson Gallery and in the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts.

“Arrows are by definition directional,” writes art historian Toby Lawrence. “The series of skywritten arrows in Kim Beck’s work ‘There Here’ is layered in significance and points of reference. Earlier iterations of Beck’s ‘The Sky Is the Limit’ project reflect billboard and advertising language, as well as highway exit signs, exploring the potential of signage to move bodies through space and the implications of this gesture,” Lawrence says.

“In Buffalo, the gesture is more direct,” she continues. “Sited within the city’s rich history and its position as a border town, the arrows rendered in the sky by a skywriting airplane draw attention to the physical and psychological space held by the border and relationships between the United States and Canada. Within, the arrows signify guidance and also allude to the history of Buffalo as the traditional lands of the Seneca people, as a migratory and economic gateway, and as a site of resistance and revolution through significant markers of history, such as the War of 1812 and the Underground Railroad that provided access to freedom for black slaves into Canada.”

Rachel Adams, senior curator of exhibitions for the UB Art Galleries, urges spectators to take their own photographs of the skywritten arrows and post them to social media with the tag #ubskywriting and #ubwanderlust.

Adams notes the galleries would like to have a wide range of participants in the project, and encourages photographers to send their high-resolution images to Beck at Beck may choose one of these images to use on a billboard. Those who send photographs to Beck should be aware that the copyright of the event and any photos she receives will become hers to use in this or another context.

Beck is an artist whose work includes drawing, print, installation and sculpture. She grew up in Colorado and now lives in Pittsburgh, where she is an associate professor in the School of Art at Carnegie Mellon University. 

Her work has been shown widely, including at the Walker Art Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Smack Mellon, Socrates Sculpture Park, Warhol Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Omi Sculpture Park, Hallwalls and on the High Line in New York City. 

Wanderlust: Actions, Traces, Journeys 1967-2017,” one of the largest and most ambitious contemporary art exhibitions ever presented by the UB Art Galleries, questions and explores the complex nature of artists as voyagers — those who leave their studio to create work outside of the confines of four walls. The exhibition is a comprehensive survey of the artist’s need to roam and the work that emerges from this need.