Artist Event

The following is an event I organized that turned into a massive project, that has turned into one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.

I posted about our having a media day for JWST back in November. We also wanted to have a social media component to it, but we’re always trying to come up with ways to reach out to new audiences.

Two things had previously happened, which ended up giving me an idea. The first was the very first look we had at JWST’s gold-coated mirrors. They are spectacularly beautiful, which is really a happy accident. They are coated with gold to optimize them for reflecting infrared light. But it also makes them incredibly gorgeous. The very special privilege of seeing oneself reflected in them, when they will see the first stars & galaxies… it was a special experience.

The other thing was meeting an artist at AwesomeCon, who had really cool spacecraft illustrations – but no JWST. Long story short, I offered to give him a tour, and a few weeks later, he had made a really beautiful JWST illustration.

I got permission to put out a call for artists to apply to come out and see the telescope, and be inspired to create, right in front of it.

We had a great response, and it was incredibly difficult to pick a small number of people out of the many, many talented applicants. I tried to pick very different artistic media and viewpoints.

The event itself, went amazingly smoothly, and it was an incredible afternoon. It went by in a flash. Our singer/songwriter actually filmed his video at the event:

Here are a whole slew of photos.

Scientist Amber speaking to the artists:
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Manager/Engineer Paul:
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Mirror engineer/manager Lee:
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That’s my face in the mirror!
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We forgot to get a group pic in front of the telescope, but we remembered before everyone left!
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After the event, we were offered the chance to do an exhibit at the Visitor Center – and our artists worked for months, and their final works were truly stunning, and surpassed my wildest expectations. I’ll do a post later on our opening reception and the exhibit, but for now, you can view our web gallery here: http://jwst.nasa.gov/jwstArt/ It’s definitely worth your while!

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