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
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.
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
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
"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!"
1st place --
Elizabeth Carroll Smith (USA)
2nd place -- Mark Maxwell
3rd place -- Alessandro
Michael Carroll (USA)
Werner Beyeler (Switzerland)
Michael Bohme (Germany)
Let There Be
Edward Mendelsohn (UK)
Karl Draeger (Germany)
Peter Eickmeyer (Germany)
To see the
entire exhibit, take the spaceship to the Ars ad Asra
Catch a ride on the
flying saucer back
to the Outer Space Art Gallery homepage