Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In, out, and Beyond

Since my last post I have been out to Arizona for a wonderful family reunion and then basically hibernating while I have begun my next art quilt. But, along the way, some stories caught my attention and so I thought I would share  them along with my latest project.

A photo that my son took near Vail, CO is the inspiration for my current work. In the past few days, my impromptu design board has sat in our family room while my interpretation has slowly grown. I totally love this early stage of creating an art quilt. I use a piece of muslin as my blank canvas and then begin to 'draw' with fabric.
 I have been collecting a stash of subtle blue/grey/green fabrics for the past year without a specific purpose. In the past few weeks, I have been supplementing my stash with this photo in mind - creating an artist's palate. The point where I settle down and begin to actually create is exciting and intense. Slowly the piece begins to grow.
It makes little sense to the outside observer (my husband) at first, particularly since I began with one detailed portion of the piece.
But, finally, it reaches a stage where it becomes recognizable.
There is a certain sense of accomplishment in reaching this stage. There is much more to add - in fabric, thread painting, and quilting - but the basic foundation is set. Now my feverish pace slows a bit, while I contemplate the next steps, and also catch up on all the tasks that fell by the wayside while I started this piece towards reality.

As I out and about on Sunday, catching up on those errands that had fallen by the wayside, I found myself listening to a most fascinating  program on CNN. It was about Sarah Parcak, who CNN describes as following:   
Sarah Parcak has been dubbed the "real-life Indiana Jones," but she prefers to be called a "space archaeologist." From her lab at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, Parcak analyzes infrared satellite imagery to map lost cities thought gone forever.
The program I was listening to was "What's Next" and features stories about forward-looking thinkers in the fields of tech, science and social change. Dr. Sanjay Gupta hosts the program and this past Sunday he was interviewing Sarah about her work. She uses satellite imagery to identify and study lost civilizations with a particular focus on Egypt. You can get a sense of what she does at this link. Eventually, the entire interview will be available there and it really is an fascinating story to listen to. Her enthusiasm for her work is contagious. She not only discovers historic sites but can monitor their condition - during the recent uprisings in Egypt, she was able to identify where looters were desecrating archaeological sites. Listening to her describe her process of 'exploration' and how she deals with an occupation where 'failure' is a common experience is an uplifting experience. 

A year or so ago, my husband and I got to take a tour of NASA's headquarters in Houston, TX. The space program has always been dear to my heart since I was in high school when we set out to put a man on the moon. That accomplishment soon after I graduated from college instilled in me the philosophy that nothing is impossible if you set a goal and work towards it. I was touched by my visit to NASA and the enthusiasm for space exploration of the workers there. I have watched with concern since then as the shuttle program ended and the future of space exploration has seemed so tenuous.

So, I took special pleasure this past week in following the launch of the unmanned SpaceX Dragon capsule – the first U.S. vessel to visit the space station since NASA’s shuttles retired last summer — and the first private spacecraft to ever attempt a delivery. 

SpaceX’s objective is to help stockpile the space station, joining Russia, Europe and Japan in resupply duties.  It is up there right now performing its task. Upon completion, it hopes to return to earth - it is the only supply ship designed to return to Earth with experiments and equipment. If all goes well, in three or four more years, the company run by the billionaire who cofounded PayPal, Elon Musk, hopes to be launching station astronauts.  SpaceX is the cornerstone of President Barack Obama’s strategy for NASA: turning over orbital flights to private business so the space agency can concentrate on destinations farther afield, like asteroids and Mars. I hope that it is successful so that future generations of young Americans can continue to be inspired by the wonders of space exploration.

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