Marfa Flights: Aerial Views of Big Bend Country
Breathtaking views of the rugged Texas Big Bend country from the air . . .
Each year, thousands of people visit Big Bend National Park and other locations in this remote section of West Texas, marveling at the stark and magnificent landscapes carved by eons of volcanism, wind, and water into the arid, mountainous country along the Rio Grande River. But until now, very few—other than hawks or eagles—have ever surveyed this fiercely beautiful region from above. In Marfa Flights: Aerial Views of Big Bend Country, photographer Paul V. Chaplo takes readers on an unforgettable sky excursion over Big Bend.
An introduction by longtime director of the Museum of the Big Bend, Lawrence John Francell, traces the history of aerial photography in Big Bend, from air patrols during the Mexican Revolution to W. D. Smithers’ army flyovers to the helicopter flights after the recent Rock House fire. He also reminds us that this unique view of the land, where water is disappearing at the same time more and more humans arrive, serves as both art and documentation, a record of a changing landscape in an increasingly fragile environment.
Flying from Marfa, Chaplo heads south to Big Bend National Park, over the Chisos Mountains to the Rio Grande. He follows the river west to Lajitas, Terlingua, and Candelaria, then veers back north to the “starry stairway” of the Davis Mountains, where the McDonald Observatory is perched. The photos capture the shapes, textures, and colors of the rugged landforms people usually see only from the ground. This dramatic perspective underscores the age and remoteness of Big Bend and displays an immense topographic tableau of strange and austere beauty.
PAUL V. CHAPLO is a professional photographer specializing in corporate and architectural photography. His creative work has been exhibited in museums around the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Museum of American Art in Washington, DC, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
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