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ART AND THE AVIATRIX: EXPRESSIONS OF AMELIA EARHART Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum

Art, in its various forms and mediums, is oftentimes a means of expression and remembrance for artists and their subjects. The life and legacy of Amelia Earhart is no exception.

Amelia was a trailblazer in aviation. She took risks, broke records, and defied norms. The Aviatrix herself reflected on the fuel behind her achievements in her poem, “Courage”. This self-examination and exhortation reveals Amelia’s attitude towards the obstacles she faced. It even inspired a musical setting of the poem that was published in 1937, the year of her disappearance, that remembers her resolve.

Amelia wrote “Courage” in 1928 And it is her most well-known poem

Poetry often communicates hard to express ideas or feelings. What might this poem reveal about Amelia’s perspective on life? About the obstacles she had to overcome?

Written for tenor voice and piano accompaniment, Amelia’s poem is set to music.

Amelia never forgot where she came from. Even from a young age she identified with her hometown when she painted the Atchison rail bridge as a gift for her grandmother. Atchison never forgot Amelia, either. She remains a celebrated and distinctive figure in Atchison history. Local artist Isabel Schreiber (1902-1978) sketched Earhart’s childhood home decades ago, further cementing her place in local memory.

Amelia painted the Atchison train bridge in 1908, the last year she lived in Atchison before she and her family moved away.
Earhart’s childhood home was acquired by the Ninety-Nines in 1984 and is now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum.
Atchison celebrated the Amelia Earhart Birthday Centennial in 1997

The way society remembers celebrity figures oftentimes emphasizes certain attributes related to their fame. This bust of Amelia was crafted in a style inspired by sculptures from antiquity. Other sculptures of this style highlight a regal or noble character in their subjects. A piece of music called “Amelia Queen of the Air” remembers Amelia in a similar light.

Artist Helen Hughes created this small but inspiring plaster bust of Amelia
These busts of Roman Emperor Marcus Aerulius and Benjamin Franklin are examples of great people memorialized in a similar way to Amelia
“Amelia Queen of the Air” was written by A.J. Maurer and arranged by May Chittim in 1937.

Based on these works of art, what kind of impression of Amelia might someone have who has never heard of her before?

Some say art imitates life, and others that life imitates art. How might Amelia in these photos correlate to her depiction in “Amelia Queen of the Air”?

About the Curator

First of all, thank you for taking the time to explore the exhibit. My name is Reid Bissen, I curated this exhibit in Spring of 2021 as part of an internship with the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison, Kansas. I hope it presents Earhart's personage, legacy, and values in a refreshing way. As a music lover, the two compositions included above were my favorite artifacts to incorporate into the exhibit. Reflecting on how soon they were written after Earhart's disappearance was instrumental in understanding how well-known and treasured Amelia was around the globe. The exhibit is temporarily on display at the AEHM, so I encourage you to come see these artifacts up close!

Created By
Reid Bissen
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