Ars ad Astra
Ars ad Astra was a project conceived by the OURS Foundation, a cultural and astronomical organization based in Switzerland. The idea was to put space art in orbit aboard the late, great Russian Mir space station (right). Conceived as a "cultural experiment" the first task the OURS organizers had was to convince the European Space Agency to OK to the idea.
Eventually, the ESA agreed so long as the materials used were non-toxic and the total weight of the exhibit didn't exceed one kilogram, or 2.24 pounds. Word went out and 82 artists answered the call. A panel of artists, space agency administrators and OURS officials selected 20 works featuring artists from nine countries.
On Sept. 3, 1995, the artworks blasted into space in a Soyuz capsule (left) along with ESA cosmonaut Thomas Reiter and his Russian comrades Sergei Avdeev and Yuri Gudzenko. Once aboard Mir, the trio struggled to pick a winning entry, as Reiter described during a live link-up to the space station on Nov. 30, 1995.
"It was quite difficult for us to select a favorite picture because we like them all," he said. "We took the task very seriously -- in fact, it took us more than a week."
The winner was American artist Elizabeth Carroll Smith for her painting "When Dreams Come True."
Smith's work stayed aboard the Mir until its fiery demise in Earth's atmosphere on March 23, 2001 (right). The rest had been flown home aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle in February 1996.
OURS president and noted space artist Arthur Woods says, "Ars ad Astra was proposed out of my deep conviction that the future of humanity -- and perhaps all life on Earth -- hangs on a narrow thread, and that narrow thread is our understanding of the importance of developing space to meet the growing needs of our species."
Here's the Cosmic Cafe's sampling of the world's only paintings that can truly be called "space art!"
When Dreams Come True
1st place -- Elizabeth Carroll Smith (USA)
2nd place -- Mark Maxwell (USA)
3rd place -- Alessandro Bartolozzi (Italy)
Michael Carroll (USA)
Werner Beyeler (Switzerland)
Michael Bohme (Germany)
Let There Be Life
Edward Mendelsohn (UK)
Painting in Space
Karl Draeger (Germany)
Peter Eickmeyer (Germany)
Claudine Varesi (Switzerland)
To see the entire exhibit, hop on the flying saucer for a ride to the Ars ad Asra website
Next: David A. Hardy
Return to the Galactic Gallery from Ars ad Astra