Aviator: Origin Story

"Aviator," is one of the many powerful portraits in the Shadow Self contemporary art series created by Sammie Kyng.

Capturing raw, unbridled emotion - that can almost be heard - was the Minneapolis artist’s goal.  



“It is critical for my models to truly invest in a photo shoot where they let down their guard,” says Kyng. “It is arguably the most important part of my creative process. Creating a stunning piece truly rests on capturing a single powerful image”.

Kyng and the model spent time together screaming! 

Both the artist and model were highly satisfied with the images captured during the shoot.

But then, Kyng changed direction.

 “As the model was leaving my studio, I watched him put on his sunglasses and was stunned. I requested he spend a few more moments with me”.

It took seconds to capture the new image. The model was already adept at screaming while being photographed. He simply donned his sunglasses and commenced posing with a wide open mouth.

Got it. Kyng thought.  


The resulting image was captured in an instant, yet it gave the piece a whole new storyline. 

Is he an aviator or are his glasses a metaphor?

Does he really fly a plane or does his soul fly free? 

Is there impending doom or is this a scream of exhilaration?

There are so many ways a piece can be interpreted by an Art Lover.


“Most of my subjects are not professional models,” says Kyng. “Yet, I continue to be surprised when I see the effort they put forth. I think they understand where we are headed, and are committed to giving everything they have during the shoot!”

As Kyng continued to refine the piece, she debated giving the Aviator glasses dimension. Or, she questioned, should I leave it flat, dark and black (potentially allowing the viewer to see through the model’s eyes into an infinite universe behind him)? And then there is the possibility of experimenting with a reflective mirror treatment on the glasses.

There are so many ways to solve creative problems. 


Each direction that is explored can affect the viewer in different ways. Kyng takes numerous rests with each piece, oftentimes pausing to work on another artwork in a completely different series. She does this to allow ample time to consider how viewers may perceive the final artwork very differently from each other.

Ultimately, Kyng hopes that this piece can be appreciated as a significant, emotionally charged moment embodying both creativity and a touch of vulnerability.



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