PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — A museum is showing artwork collected by a Delta flight attendant who started handing out crayons to passengers after the Sept. 11th attacks.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is showing “Plane Art — Connecting People” through Jan. 25.
Several dozen pictures are hanging at the museum, and many others are available for visitors to leaf through in folders.
The pictures were collected by Delta flight attendant Jewel Van Valin. She got the idea a few months after 9/11, when the airline began substituting paper for linens as tray table covers.
She said one passenger who noticed the change “threw his head back and rolled his eyes, and I could tell he was thinking, ‘What’s next?’ That look clinched it for me.”
Van Valin had a box of crayons in her flight bag and started putting a crayon on each tray.
“The passengers started laughing and drawing,” she recalled. “It was a way to reconnect after 9/11.”
She later contacted Crayola, and the company now supplies her with Rainbow Twistables, which are crayons that have four colors in one tube.
Van Valin says that passengers are wary initially when she asks them if they’re “ready to have some fun, but then the crayons come out and they start laughing.”
Some passengers tell her that they don’t know how to draw, “but I tell them that it’s not about drawing, it’s about having fun.”
Van Valin hangs the pictures up on airplane paneling during flights so passengers can see each other’s work. She saves all the pictures and estimates she has about 3,500 drawings.
“Jewel started this following 9/11 to calm passengers’ nerves as they flew Delta,” said Palm Springs Air Museum director Sharon Maguire.
Maguire added that Van Valin’s idea proved that “one resourceful, caring person can connect people, start conversations and build relationships.”
For more information about the museum, go to www.palmspringsairmuseum.org.