The Struggles and Adventures of the "First Black Astronaut" Candidate
About the Speaker
ED DWIGHT - A man whose resume reads: Former Air Force test pilot, and America's first Black Astronaut candidate, IBM Systems Engineer, Civil Aviation consultant, executive pilot, Real Estate and construction entrepreneur, and restauranteur can best be described as a true renaissance man. Ed Dwight has succeeded in all those areas. For the last 37 years, however, Ed has focused his direction singularly on art endeavors. Since his serious art career began in 1978, Dwight has become one of the most prolific and insightful sculptors in America.
Born in Kansas City, Ed left to join the U.S. Air Force in 1953. After pilot training, Ed obtained a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Arizona State University and served as an officer and pilot. In 1961, Ed was chosen by President John Kennedy to enter the Air Force's Experimental Test Pilot School, as a prerequisite to becoming America's first Black Astronaut. Ed completed Astronaut training & served as a Test Pilot. He left the program after the death of President Kennedy. In 1966, after fourteen years in the military, Ed left the Air Force.
After creating several successful businesses in Denver, CO, Ed rekindled his initial love for art, and in 1977 earned a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts (MFA) from the University of Denver. In 1974, the State of Colorado offered Ed a commission to create a series of bronzes entitled Black Frontier Spirit in the American West to honor the contributions of African America’s in settling the American frontier.
From that commission, Ed began to further explore the history of Blacks in America. His research lead him to study the African culture and African ancestral imagery. He found the African culture, provided many important cultural realities to the slaves in America. An intricate part of the Africans life in America was music as an art form, and this lead to Dwight's study of his next major series entitled; Jazz: an American Art Form. This series of some 70 bronzes depicts the evolution of jazz music from its roots in African to the contemporary jazz superstars of the jazz era, and focuses on this style as a pure American musical idiom.
In 1980, Ed received his first large scale commission of Frederick Douglass from the National Park Service. Since then Ed has created over 127 Monuments, Memorials & Public Art installations around the U.S. depicting the contributions of African Americans to America’s landscape.
Ed has works in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution, and other museums, and commands an extensive collector base all over the world.
Ed's company, Ed Dwight Studios, Inc. operates a 30,000 sq.ft., studio/gallery and foundry as is one of the largest single artist production and marketing facilities in the Western U.S.
Grand Forks, ND
Dwight, Ed, "The Struggles and Adventures of the "First Black Astronaut" Candidate" (2016). Space Studies Colloquium. 54.