Creative Cultural Convergence

Creative Cultural Convergence features artwork that informs exploration and inspires discovery.

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Astronaut Artists
alan bean sitting in front of his paintings
Alan Bean, Astronaut and Artist
Image credit: www.alanbean.com, A Message From Alan Bean

carl waltz in space with his keyboard
Carl Walz performs for a group of astronauts on board the International Space Station.
Image credit: NASA

alan bean's painting entitled 'first class rock photographer'
'World Class Rock Photographer'.
Image credit: Alan Bean

Many of the astronauts who have voyaged into space have not just contributed to scientific research but have also made works of art to showcase their experiences. These artists have helped to bridge the gap between space science and space art, in addition to growing the field of space art itself. Astronauts have turned to art in numerous ways; visual art, acoustic music and internet radio are a few of the more common examples, although the mediums through which astronauts have used to express themselves is boundless.

One of the first astronaut artists, Alan Bean, made his first flight to space aboard Apollo 12, becoming the 4th human to walk on the moon. And after retiring from NASA in 1981, Bean became the first astronaut to recreate his space explorations through paint.

Bean constructed physical scenes using models of astronauts, lunar modules and moon rovers in order to ensure that he accurately depicted Apollo scenes, events and images in his paintings. He wanted his paintings to be historically accurate, but also aesthetically pleasing, creative, and awe-inspiring. Ever since his walk on the moon in 1969, Alan Bean has sought to recapture his experience of space and space exploration through art.

Carl Waltz was another astronaut-turned-artist, although unlike Bean, he brought his art to space with him. Waltz was an astronaut who lived aboard the International Space Station in 2001 for 196 days, and brought a keyboard along for the ride. For Waltz, the keyboard served as a reminder of home, a source of relaxation and entertainment for the crew onboard.

More recently, Joe Acaba became the first NASA astronaut to DJ in the International Space Station, broadcasting on the internet radio station, Third Rock Radio, on August 3rd, 2012, 240 miles from Earth. Acaba demonstrates that something created in space does not have to remain in space; he can play music from aboard the space station and have it reach ears on Earth.

Alan Bean, Carl Waltz, and Joe Acaba are just a few examples of astronauts and trained space travelers who have turned to art as a creative outlet, and whose works have inspired future generations of space explorers.