18 × 7 in
45.7 × 17.8 cm
Hebru Brantley’s spunky FlyBoy, with his signature dark skin, pilot goggles, and a red handkerchief around his neck, tows the line between kid next door and symbol of political empowerment. In Brantley’s paintings and sculptures, FlyBoy is just as likely to appear fighting crime as he is having fun—jamming with his boombox or zooming through the clouds on his smiling, shark-faced rocketship. Modeled after the Tuskegee Airmen—an African American military Air Force unit that flew during World War II—FlyBoy is a refreshing challenge to the archetype of the American superhero. “It’s very rare to see a popular character that is African American, Latino, or Asian. I wanted to create that, but in a space of high art and with some historical context,” said Brantley.