San Francisco photographer William Laven's "War Models" presents a highly unusual and thought-provoking document of the military aircraft currently in use in the Iraqi theater of war. For these are not hackneyed, gung-ho Top Gun spectaculars of the real machines but rich, intricate overhead studies of the raw plastic parts from unassembled model airplane kits purchased at a local hobby shop.
Of the forty aircraft flown in Operation Iraqi Freedom, model kits are made of twenty one. Here Laven exhibits carbon pigment inkjets on Hahnemuhle archival paper of 18 of them.
These black and white prints touch on the American fascination with symbols of power. At once full of boyish nostalgia and lethal foreboding, these rich, shiny and intricate agents of destruction become yet more fascinating when you understand the images are scaled in relation to each other in precisely the same proportions as their real world counterparts. Each image is 1/72 the size of the actual aircraft. The AV-8 Harrier, for example, is small enough that two could squeeze into the typical San Francisco house lot, while two B-52 Stratofortress bombers would overcrowd a football field.
William Laven, B.A. (Stanford), Ed.M. (Harvard), completed an MFA in photography at San Francisco Art Institute in 1991. He has taught photography for decades at schools and workshops throughout the country, including University of California at Davis, San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts Extension Program, University of California at Santa Cruz Extension Program, Academy of Art College and the Oregon College of Art and Craft. He produced a portfolio of prints for the Coupeville Arts Center while serving as artist-in-residence there in the summer of 1992. He was President of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Camerawork (1993-1998) and is currently Co-Director of the Potrero Nuevo Fund, a charitable fund that supports arts and environmental programs in the Bay Area. Laven's work has been exhibited in individual and group shows through the US.