William B. Adair

 

Ghost Ships

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Inspired by the early American naturalist painter Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849 – 1921), Adair’s Ghost Ship series ties in Thayer’s early military camouflage designs with actual events surrounding World War II.

Abbott Thayer developed his camouflage concepts through intensive study and observation of wildlife. After discovering the natural camouflage mechanisms of birds and wild animals, he developed similarly disruptive surface patterns for Naval vessels and soldiers’ uniforms to aid the Allied forces during the First World War. Though the potential of his camouflage concepts were not fully realized until World War II, today Thayer is widely regarded as the father of camouflage.

Naval warfare is also a point of personal connection for Adair, whose uncle was commander of the USS Borie (DD-704) when it was struck and severely damaged by a Japanese kamikaze on August 9, 1945, during the final raids on the Japanese home islands at the end of World War II. Forty-eight soldiers were killed and sixty-six others wounded in the attack. Though his uncle, Captain Noah Adair, survived, he was blown off the bridge into the water, losing his hearing.

Through his work, Adair brings reconciliation to his uncle’s memory and the nation of Japan, now a trusted U.S. ally with whom our country shares significant cultural and economic exchange. The 20th century Navy ships in his work become vessels that connect our countries both physically and symbolically, becoming harbingers of diplomacy.