Pat Hammond has an incredible kite collection; she has assembled a group of hundreds of kites over the last couple of decades. They have been gathered from all over the world and showcased in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art. Author Christopher Ornelas discovered Hammond’s work and documented her process and collections in his book Name Them—They Fly Better: Pat Hammond’s Theory of Aerodynamics.
The artist designs her own kites, using her dreams and wishes as the blueprints for each one. A number of her kites have never flown, but they are expressions of her nearly boundless energy and creativity—pieces like a corset on a string called, “Of Corset Flies,” and one fashioned from chicken wire called “Flew de Coop.” Her sense of humor is obvious in her work, which she takes quite seriously.
But we should not consider Hammond merely a whimsical collector or charming artist. In fact, she has a love for science and physics that makes her understanding of kites all the more understandable. She studies bees and their key qualities, and bird wings, beetles, and butterflies. Kite makers and collectors all over the world look to her for inspiration.
She also collects average, everyday objects like jars, matchsticks, shells, combs, and figurines, and she transforms them into something greater. She has hundreds of small spinning tops that she makes from round metal discs and matchstick spindles.
Still, Hammond hardly considers herself an artist. It doesn’t appear that she has much realization at all that she is capturing essential elements of the human experience. As Kim Stafford wrote in 2016, “Pat invited us into her house and we wandered in the wake of her brimming chatter about projects, schemes, wild imaginings—kites, feathers, colors, fabrics, a palpable architecture of some dreamed-up design she sketched in the air…Like strings of kites she released into the sky, each lifting the next, the next—until a hundred diamonds beaded one string into the sky—she offered a ladder of visions that could lift us from this world to the next.”
Name Them—They Fly Better is a well-rounded portrait of a singular artist who lives life as a creative act.