Flights of stone

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Queensborough Community College will open a new exhibit by a Brooklyn artist at its Bayside gallery next month that will feature four pieces — one of which nearly takes up an entire room and reaches the ceiling but only weights 200 pounds — inspired by aviation.

David Henderson will display his “A Brief History of Aviation” exhibit at the college, at 222-05 56th Ave. in Bayside, from Sept. 8 through the end of the month. The Brooklyn-based artist said the exhibit’s pieces were inspired both by the concept of flight as well as by an architectural concept found in British cathedrals.

“I have always been fascinated by churches,” Henderson said. “Basically, I turned the design of the church’s ceiling on its side and substituted stone with modern materials such as Dacron, a lightweight fabric used for aircraft. When you go in a cathedral, you’re in an amazing space. I wanted to take the shape out of its religious context to see how it looked.”

The artworks also give the impression of defying gravity and Henderson said some of his designs draw from his childhood fascination with science-fiction, space travel and exploration.

The exhibit’s largest piece, based on the 16th century Bath, England, cathedral architectural concept of fan vaulting, is 17 feet high, 20 feet wide and 25 feet long. But the piece, made up of translucent material and honeycomb-like panels, only weighs an estimated 200 pounds.

“It’s not that heavy,” Henderson said. “Two people can slide it across the floor. It’s a little more architectural than anything I’ve done before.”

He said he put together the large piece without computers and no “concept of engineering.”

Other works in the show include a bright orange square, titled “Re-echo,” that is composed of textured foam and made up of circular patterns, as well as giant white globes entitled “The Glorious First of June,” which protrude from one of the gallery’s walls.

Another work, “Eole,” has an hourglass shape known as a torus. That piece greets visitors in the museum’s lobby.

“The piece is a black hole that pulls in space around it,” he said of the latter work. “It’s striking.”

Henderson said he created the pieces in his Williamsburg, Brooklyn, studio. The largest piece took two months to complete.

He said he plans on taking the pieces to another museum in the five boroughs after his exhibit closes at Queensborough.

“The beauty of an exhibit like this, aside from aesthetics, is that people can project anything they want onto it,” said Faustino Quintanilla, executive director of the school’s art gallery. “It holds the drama of a stage set, the curved arches found in classical architecture and the organic geometric shapes of cones, planes, spheres and torus.”

The four artworks are being exhibited for the first time at the Bayside college.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

If You Go

A Brief History of Aviation

When: Sept. 8 to 30; Tuesdays and Fridays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 p.m.; closed Mondays

Where: Queensborough Community College Art Gallery, 222-05 56th Ave., Bayside

Contact: 718-631-6396 or

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Updated 6:10 pm, October 10, 2011
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