Artist's Quarter: Flying Colors

"Airescape 7" (above) is among the 17 works by Marian Osher, MFA '72, that will be on display at an exhibition at GW's Virginia Science and Technology Campus, September 12 through January 4. (Image courtesy of Marian Osher ©2010)

By Menachem Wecker, MA ’09

Even before her Sept. 11, 2001, flight from Amsterdam to Philadelphia was diverted to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Marian Osher had been afraid of flying. She’d been on planes with electrical problems, fuel leaks and engine failure. One Baltimore-bound flight was so turbulent that, when it landed temporarily in Washington, Ms. Osher, MFA ’72, deplaned and took the subway home. “I thought it was going to be the end,” she remembers.

But it was the Sept. 11 return flight from Amsterdam that sent her over the edge. The pilot announced that weather had shuttered East Coast airports, but when she and her husband saw the Halifax runways lined with jets, they knew something was wrong.

They were kept on the plane for 10 hours, then spent four days under the graces of Canadian volunteers, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Ms. Osher wouldn’t fly again for three years; she once even took a train to Colorado. But when her son moved to Montana and her daughter to San Francisco, Ms. Osher knew she needed to wrestle her fear. She did so through her art.

She booked window seats, where her fascination with the clouds and the landscapes was so diverting that she could, essentially, forget to be afraid. And different seasons brought all sorts of textures, colors and shapes. The result of that aesthetic immersion will be on view in an exhibition at GW’s Virginia Science and Technology Campus (Sept. 12 through Jan. 4) titled Fearless Flying in 2016! The show includes 17 colorful mixed-media paintings and wall hangings, which hover between abstraction and realism.

The works are not only bold artistic statements, they’ve proven therapeutic. Ms. Osher has kicked her fear, flying as far away as Africa, Australia and South America.

“Although I am no longer afraid to fly,” she says, “when I land, I always say, ‘Earth!’ gratefully, out loud.”

Ms. Osher will be giving a gallery talk on the exhibition Sept. 15. For more on her work, visit