WAUSAU, WISCONSIN: Rocket launches, moon landings, and planetary explorations interpreted through the eyes of American artists are featured in NASA | ART: 50 Years of Exploration, on view April 14 through June 17 at the Woodson Art Museum.
Artists as diverse as Annie Leibovitz, Nam June Paik, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, and William Wegman offer insights into the triumphs and tragedies of space travel through drawings, paintings, photographs, and sculpture ranging from illustrative to abstract.
A year after the Soviet Union launched sputnik, America entered the “space race” in 1958, and two years later Alan Shepard became the first American in space. In 1962, NASA began inviting artists to document the accomplishments, setbacks, and sheer excitement of space exploration. Charged with elucidating the space agency’s missions and projects, artists in the NASA Art Program had access to engineers and astronauts on launch pads and flight simulators.
The resulting artwork conveys the elation of achievement and the heartbreak of calamity throughout five decades of space flight. Andy Warhol depicts Buzz Aldrin’s historic steps on the lunar surface through his neon-highlighted Moonwalk silkscreen. Henry Casselli captures an astronaut’s moments before takeoff in When Thoughts Turned Inward. Chakaia Booker acknowledges the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Columbia’s crew in Remembering Columbia, through twisting tire remnants preserved from an earlier shuttle mission.
In honor of NASA’s 50th anniversary, curators from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the NASA Art Program selected more than seventy artworks comprising this exhibition. NASA | ART was organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and NASA in cooperation with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Generous support from UMR enables NASA | ART to be presented at the Woodson.
NASA was established by Congress in 1958 “to provide for research into the problems of flight within and outside the Earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.” The agency is headquartered in Washington D.C., with 10 field centers and other facilities across the nation. NASA’s mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research. For details, visitwww.nasa.gov
The National Air and Space Museum, composed of the flagship building on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., is home to the world’s finest collection of flight artifacts. From aircraft and space vehicles to engines, art and models, the wide array of the museum’s holdings tells the story of the history and technology of air and space exploration. The museum is also a key resource for research into the history, science and technology of aviation and space flight. Visit www.nasm.si.edu for details.
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside the nation’s capital for more than 50 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history. Visit www.sites.si.edu for exhibition descriptions and tour schedules.
Woodson Art Museum
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
First Thursday of each month 9:00 am – 7:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday Noon – 5:00 pm
Closed Monday and holidays, including Easter
Admission: Always Free Admission
Location: Franklin and 12th Streets, Wausau, Wisconsin 54403-5007
(700 N. 12th Street)