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Sculpture in the sky

Swatches | September 1, 2019 | By:

To celebrate the many beautiful and historic places in Massachusetts preserved by The Trustees, artist Doug Aitken created a continuous, flowing art event. His balloon sculpture provided a lens that enabled people to see their environment in a unique new way. Photo: Doug Aitken Workshop and The Trustees.

The summer road trip—everything packed into the car for a journey to see the sights across the American landscape. That’s the inspiration for a multifaceted art event that took place in Massachusetts in July. But this excursion traded the automobile for a hot air balloon. The brainchild of Los Angeles-based artist Doug Aitken, New Horizon included a series of live events across the state, centered around a reflective hot air balloon and gondola. Aitken, an artist who often defies definitions of genre, designed the project for The Trustees of Reservations, a Massachusetts nonprofit dedicated to preserving scenic and historic properties for public enjoyment. 

The centerpiece of the experience was a 100-foot reflective balloon: A Mylar laminate coating transformed it into a flying mirrored sculpture that reflected its surroundings with astounding singularity and beauty. 

New Horizon lifted off from Long Point Wildlife Refuge on Martha’s Vineyard and traveled to sites including Boston, the Crane Estate in Ipswich and the Berkshires. Special live events accompanied each stop, including conversations about art, the environment, lectures, music and art. For more information, visit

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