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In 1928, fewer than a dozen American women held pilot’s licenses. These female pilots were determined to change the face of flying. They would go on to claim new speed and distance records, execute daring theatrics in airborne races, and stun the press with their feats of survival, performing mid-air repairs and leaping out of fiery crashes. These fly girls didn’t just prove to the public that women could indeed fly planes; they proved they could also compete with men and even win. In doing so, they were fighting for equal recognition, rights, and pay for their efforts.

Barton, whose work has been exhibited and installed throughout the United States, finds inspiration in people and their stories. Having a background of working as a psychotherapist, it is not surprising that she connects with narratives of transformation, where challenges and adversities are overcome. “I created Fly Girl as a tribute to early women’s aviation because I was fascinated by their stories and by what they accomplished in the face of monumental obstacles. They were brave and courageous and possessed the drive to achieve their dreams,” says Barton about her work.