Paper Airplanes


is a  conceptual series using the paper airplane as metaphor for perspective. 

You can filter any situation through your lens of beliefs to help you respond. In other words, reality depends on your perspective. The filter you choose affects the world you see. Choosing a positive filter means living a life filled with opportunity. Choosing a negative filter means a life of limitations. How your perspective leads you to act or not act in a given situation is something you control.  


My inspiration for this series came from my time at Anderson Ranch Arts Center. I was working in a predominately 2D, multimedia series I dubbed Collection20. Then after selecting a project from a prompt list, created by artist/art educator Paul Thek [Cooper Union] my focus started to shift.   “Make a large paper airplane and paint a slogan on it that will revolutionize your life” was my selection and in lieu of a slogan, I selected a song used at the end of Kundalini yoga practice “Long Time Sun” written by: Mike Heron  



May the long time sun

Shine upon you

All love surround you

And the pure light

Within you

Guide your way on

Guide your way on

It is interesting and not surprising that I was naturally drawn to the paper airplane prompt. The fun and childlike quality appealed to me, it was interactive, you got to build it and then have fun flying it. Lastly, I loved the quote or written component of this prompt and those who know me, know I love my quotes. 

After the original airplane was made, a curator/artist suggested I make two smaller paper airplanes with the lyrics written on them, then to hike up to the top of a mountain and launch them off for each of my sons who were struggling at the time. Linda Geary artist/art educator [ California College of the Arts] overheard this conversation and encouraged me to document the process, so I made my first short film as I created small paper airplanes and hiked the Ute Trail in Aspen, CO to launch them in the name of love and healing. Painting has become so much more than paint and canvas. I experimented with which model paper airplane would fly, sending the test flights through the studio space and hanging the crashed planes from the studio ceiling.

Later during my time at Anderson Ranch, I painted two small playful and whimsical paintings of paper airplanes.The response was so  positive during my exit critique that I decided this image was going to be part of a series.” In retrospect, I planned very hard for that stroke of luck.”

The meaning:

I use the airplane is a metaphor for oneself and emotional intelligence, being above a situation, seeing it in a different way with new perspective(s).  “As I journey or fly through life, I enjoy the ease in which I can change my reactions to responses using my breath and new perspectives. Many times, when I am in flow, life is an easy graceful flight and other times resistance and fear manifest turbulence and delays on my flight through life.  Good thing the paper airplane is resilient and I have a lot a paper in the case of a crash.”

My need process and understand mental health is very personal and familial; schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorder and suicide have been part of my life. As complicated as these diagnoses and events are, they also can be an awakening. I am being called to help or heal others and my artwork is one vehicle that allows me to do so my Paper Airplanes series is the start of something much bigger.

On the color palate I would say the dark blue or Payne’s Grey, my current color crush, represents a darkness or sadness. Gold represents light, both inner light or self and outer light - universal. The white represents peace and being present. All the variations these colors make represent contrast and the balancing act of our thoughts feelings and emotions.

Cotton encourages the viewer to attach their own meaning to the paper plane.

“Fly high - it’s what you were meant to do! “ - Love Courtney

First Flight