What Happens When Art Meets Space?

Nicole Stott and her watercolours in space. From collectSPACE.com

Outer space is often pictured as a vast, dark environment, dotted with bright stars. Sometimes, there are bursts of colors, thanks to the planets and moons that inhabit the galaxy. You could say it’s almost a work of art – and that’s exactly what the creators of “Space for Art” would tell you, too.

The exhibit, “Space for Art,” debuted on Jan. 25 at the Space Center Houston in Texas. The goal of the display is to show how art and outer space are connected (and they are, according to organizers – more than we may think).

Former astronaut Nicole Stott is responsible for organizing the temporary exhibit. She wants to highlight how artistry and spaceflight can be linked and blended in one community. Back in 2009, Stott lived for 90 days at the International Space Station. She became the first person to paint while in space, using a small watercolor kit.

“The exhibit is really about bringing together a local space community to present both the science and the art of that community — and I think in a unique way,” Stott told collectSPACE. “We’re going to the people who we normally consider to be our scientists, our engineers, our astronauts, and presenting their artistic side as well.”

Stott left NASA in 2015 after 27 years to pursue her dreams of working as a professional artist. However, she is still (clearly) involved in exhibiting how it’s possible to have an interest in both arts and sciences.

“I am hoping people who come to Space Center Houston see that the artistic side of the astronauts, scientists and engineers is a really good thing,” she continued. “It can help us communicate about our space program and about the space station that is on orbit that I honestly think is a piece of art itself.”

And if you haven’t heard of astronauts dabbling in the arts before, the exhibit is sure to open your eyes. Space artists including Ron Woods, Pat Rawlings, and Paul Calle all have paintings in the exhibit.

Additionally, the works in the exhibit are not limited to just 2-D pieces. For instance, a toy dinosaur created by Karen Nyberg with scraps of fabric from the ISS are on display. A flute played by Ellen Ochoa while onboard a space shuttle is also up for viewing.

“I think the public will be surprised by the biographies and statements we had the artists provide that speaks to their personal stories of how science and art comes together for them,” Stott told collectSPACE.

You can see the exhibit on display until March 19.


“Space for Art: New exhibit displays artistic side of astronauts, NASA workers.” collectSPACE.com. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.

“Space for Art.” SpaceCenter.org. Retrieved Jan. 30, 2017.

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