The Global Rivers Project Goes Cosmic

Posted on 4th November 2009 by admin in River Blog

About a year ago, I was searching for a great art show for the opening of the new Gault Fine Art Center at Martin Methodist College, in Pulaski, TN, where I teach. I had heard about the NASA Space Art Collection that the Smithsonian sends around, at a cost of $35,000. Wondering if there was an art collection at the NASA complex in Huntsville, AL, which is located a bit south of Pulaski, I made a cold call and found John Dumoulin, who is in-charge of Communication and Art Exhibits at NASA Huntsville. He was kind enough to allow me to look through their large collection, and pick out a number of paintings and scale models of spacecraft for exhibit in our maiden show at the college.

Curating the show was amazingly fun. I learned that the American Space Art Collection was started in the 1960s, to invite artists to capture the excitement of the NASA launches. As Mr. Dumoulin said, everything else being done at NASA was recorded by the scientists and technicians, but it took the artist to capture the emotion of these cutting-edge explorations. The level of the artworks is incredible, ranging from the completely abstract to photographic realism. There are imaginings of space travel in all forms and shapes; and I was able to curate a fantastic first art exhibit.

Somehow, I kept feeling as if there is a link between the Global Rivers art and the NASA show. I called Dr. Frank Six, Director of higher education at NASA, and we talked about an idea for a title that would join the two groups of work. The concept that came up was to call the combined art exhibit: The Heavens and the Earth: Truth in Space/Truth on the Ground.

At this point, the Martin College Art Club and I are responding to, and creating new artwork informed by the NASA Space Art – connecting the broad view of nebulae and star births inspired by photographs from the Hubble Space Telescope to our artwork about various rivers of the world. The juxtaposition of this macro/micro viewpoint is inspiring to the students. Our lives are being changed from working so closely with art focused on both space and the Earth’s natural environment.

Personally, I realize that I have lived my life a bit fearful of issues concerning outer space. In the past, I have had dreams of flying through endless dark space, which left me with an intense feeling to keep both feet on the ground, so to speak. However, the Hubble pictures leave us all with a feeling that space is awesome and angelic. Influenced by impressions like these, I have decided to use fiber arts to enhance the softness of the cloud formations, and mica paint to show their luminosity.

On November 10th, the Martin Art Club will host a sneak peak of our latest space art, in conjunction with the Martin Methodist College Chamber Choir, singing select songs about outer space.

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