Dream Rocket Project Melds Art and Science
Washburn University art professor Jennifer Marsh wanted a project to link art across the board with science and other fields. And one in which communities could get invested.
The resulting Dream Rocket Project began in 2009 and culminates in 2015. Using the theme of “Dare to Dream,” it encourages individuals and groups worldwide to use art to express their dreams and aspirations.
The goal is to collect between 5,000 and 8,000 artwork panels which will be pieced together into a 32,000 square-foot quilt to fully wrap the 111 meters (363-feet) tall Saturn V moon rocket replica at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Permission to do so in 2015 has already by obtained from NASA. This will then be a 60-day exhibition running May 1 thru June 30, 2015.
As tall as a 36-story building, the Saturn V Rocket was built by NASA to send people to the moon. This work-horse rocket provided the thrust for nine Apollo missions to the Moon, six of which landed on its surface, the first being in 1969'.
“The Saturn V is a monumental icon. It took over 500,000 people to build it. That it took astronauts on the Apollo missions and returned them safely is pretty remarkable,” said Marsh, the Catron Professor of Art at Washburn University. ”The resulting Dream Rocket Project is a wonderful metaphor for achievement through collaboration, [of] working together to do problem solving,"
Though the catalyst for the project is the Saturn V, a myriad of subjects besides space are included in this vision of the future, including peace, equality, community, conservation and patriotism.
So far, there have been almost 1800 submissions with another 1800 in progress. The 2 x 2 foot cloth panels have come from at least 17 countries, 46 states and 363 communities. In Kansas, over 60 schools, community organizations or individuals have sent artwork.
Panels have come from as far away as England and Poland. More are coming from Italy as a result of an impromptu presentation made by Augusta art teacher Charlene Jesser while doing course work in Venice this past summer.
“This project is bigger than I ever thought it would be,” says Jesser, K-5 art teacher for the Augusta USD 402 school district. “It’s like we’re making the whole world aware of science and the importance of science.” All four public elementary schools in Augusta are participating. Panels from two of the schools were on display at the 2013 Kansas State Fair.
Jesser’s 4th and 5th grade art classes at Lincoln and Robinson Elementaries will use the Mars rovers as their subject for the Dream Rocket Project. When she told the students at Robinson about the Mars rovers, most of them knew nothing about it. “I told them, ‘You are going to enjoy so much learning about science.’ I told them to check out a book and do some research on the rovers,” says Jesser.
Her students are excited. “You mean me? I get to be on the Dream Rocket!” are typical responses. Their submissions will be part of a Dream Rocket display at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center Feb. 1 thru March 30, 2014.
Panel displays have traveled to 134 venues of all sizes across the nation. Current displays are at the Tecumseh South Elementary School, Tecumseh, Kan. And the Rennaisance Center in Dickson, Tenn. In 2014, displays will be at the Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland, Neb.; at the annual Ad Astra Kansas Day Space Celebration in Topeka in April as well as at the Coffey County Library in Lebo.
The project recently reached a fundraising goal of $12,000, enabling the hiring of Topeka-based engineers Bartlett & West to handle the logistics of NASA’s very specific guidelines in the wrapping process. The quilt cannot actually touch the rocket; it must be independently supported and framed around the rocket.
The idea behind the project seems to be working. “Getting a lot of people of different types working together is a good way to bridge arts and science or other fields,” says Marsh.
Submissions continue to be welcome though March 2015. To learn more about the project, go to http://www.thedreamrocket.com/