Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

Astronaut Quilts in Space

Everybody shut up! This ASTRONAUT is QUILTING on the SPACE STATION. I have never been happier to write a blog post. Please excuse while I’m coming down from a full-fledged freak out. I’m sorry I told everyone to shut up.

The Art Works Blog posted this interview last month with NASA engineer, Karen Nyberg. Karen has been quilting in her free time…in space. One of her recent pieces will be just one block of a much larger, star-themed quilt to be displayed at this year’s International Quilt Festival. 2,000 other people from all over the world also sent in their own 9″ square to be featured in the quilt. Karen will be attending the opening of the Quilt Festival to talk about space and quilting.

“I think it’s extremely important to be well-rounded and exercise both sides of your brain, and I think sometimes if you build the creative part, you need that in the scientific part as well.” – Karen Nyberg

It’s great to see leaders in the science industry highlight the importance of creative thinking. Astronaut Nyberg was exposed to creativity at a young age and it has continued to fulfill her life. Now, with this “Astronomical Quilts! Block Challenge” she has been able to use quilting to promote her own industry. In the article she says, “I wanted to have some type of a project to draw in other people, quilters, and just share the space station with somebody that maybe wouldn’t think about space travel and research in space.”

To dive a little deeper and away from quilting: there are some really interesting cross overs between NASA and the non-profit arts world. Recently, NASA has seen substantial budget cuts forcing them to re-evaluate the foundation of their organization. They’ve made the transition from the shuttle program to outsourcing rides to space from Russia and now they’re in the business of commercializing space travel. Certainly there aren’t any arts organizations flying to space (yet), but there are always arts organizations who have to restructure in an effort to stay viable.

Another similarity between NASA and arts orgs is their desire for quality innovators and creative thinkers. NASA understands that great ideas are often creative ideas. Lots of Astronauts and NASA administrators can be quoted praising arts education and STEAM because they realize how important is to cultivating the next generation of innovative engineers!

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One comment on “Astronaut Quilts in Space

  1. carolynsupinka18
    October 16, 2014

    THIS IS SO COOL. I LOVE QUILTING. I LOVE SPACE. Quilting is something I’ve always wanted to get into. I love the symbolism and poetry in the act as well as the final product. It can be an act of solitude or a way of remembering a community.

    I also love the high tech/ simple craft contrast in this. So many millions of dollars and science to send people to space, and quilting is such a peaceful and simple activity that really puts the grandiose nature of the space program into perspective.

    This made me think of a project one of my favorite writing professors from undergrad is currently undertaking: The Google Lunar X Prize. http://www.cmu.edu/google-lunar-x/

    He and other artists are creating works specifically to put on the lunar rover! Super exciting.

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