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International Space Station
From vision to reality...
This is one of my favorite commissions to date. Being the space enthusiast that I am, imagine how exciting it was for me to be contacted by NASA's launch director, Mike Leinbahch, to create this piece in 2000. The goal of the commission was to illustrate the concept of the completed ISS.
In 2000 there was not much of the space station's construction in place since the first ISS module (*1) had been launched only two years earlier. From November of 1998 to July of 2000 five missions had successfully carried out assemblage of three modules. To portray the completed space station I interpreted provided module and component diagrams, where they would be installed and each units intended purpose. It was a fascinating learning experience. My illustration is what physicists, scientist and engineers had envisioned for future component assemblage. Components and projects have since been modified to better suit research and living conditions aboard the ISS.
The shuttle program has been one of the key elements in the success and development of the space station but its valiant era of manned space flight came to a close in July of 2011 as the shuttle Atlantis accomplished her final mission launching on July 8th and returning safely to Earth on July 21. In this painting, I positioned the shuttle's launching grounds at Kennedy Space Center, Florida as a prominent earthly backdrop for the ISS to illustrate the important role the shuttle program has provided. The presence of the moon in the background represents the timeline of where we have been with manned space exploration, and the ISS filling the foreground and exceeding the canvas borders is to suggest where we are and where we are going. Now, only twelve years from its inception, and ten years from the creation of this painting, the reality of the ISS has given the human race a very real jumping off point from which to explore the universe.
I believe the International Space Station to be one of the worlds most significant accomplishments. I often wonder how people in the future will look at this achievement carried out by 16 different nations. Will it seem noteworthy in the future that so many cultures came together and successfully created a way of coexisting while exploring our universe? Perhaps if mankind is lucky, projects like this will be standard operations. For now, it speaks of hope and potentials for our planets future as we head closer to becoming a global civilization.
"...It's the human spirit, it's the spirit of adventure and discovery and moving on, moving beyond what you have, wanting more and getting more, whether its tangible or philosophical or emotional, just wanting more out of life." - Mike Leinbach (Excerpt from interview by Irene Klotz, "Out of the Abyss", posted June 8th, 2009)
(*1) Learn More about the ISS
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" The Alchemy of Light"
A Tribute to Hubble
Both Edwin Hubble and the Hubble Space Telescope have greatly enriched my life through their contribution to science, the understanding and vision they have inspired, and by bringing the universe a little closer to my backyard.
This painting is a salutation to the enjoyment I have received through my years of pondering on, gazing at, mystified with and inspired by the cosmos. It embodies the birth of my fascination for astrophysics and the breathtaking dynamics of our universe.
Medium: 48" x 36" Acrylic on canvas. (2009)
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"Shines The Nameless"
The Dualistic Interplay of Nature
A compelling light tunnels through the fabric of space and time generating a vibrant wave of cosmic creations. Spiraling forward to the darker regions are fingers of gleaming light outstretched as if belonging to a luminous hand that seeks fertile soil for which to drop its seeds of life. The dynamic contrast between violent light-filled eruptions and the serene, cool, darker tones twist and turn on the canvas resulting in a single braided event. Creation arrives from some unknown realm, nameless and inventing everything.
Method & Medium: Acrylic on canvas. This highly textured painting began to take shape one morning after an exceptional night of star watching. The stars have captivated humankind for millennia and I consider this almost every time I am spellbound by the beauty of a night sky. How many humans throughout history have stood mesmerized by the mystery behind these scintillating windows into the heavens? As I investigate what lies beyond our atmosphere I imagine that man has always had one foot on earth and one in the heavens.
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Pluto and Proserpina
The Human Environment Collection ( Below right panel: "The Rape of Proserpina", Bernini 1621 )
Seeing A Different Story...
When I was 14 years old I discovered a biography on Gian Lorenzo Bernini that revealed his multifaceted talent, remarkable precision and obvious tenacity. I have been fascinated by his artistic brilliance ever since.
I consider "The Rape of Proserpina" (at right) to be one of Bernini's finest works. For me the genius behind the masterpiece is in the unexpected sensuality in Pluto's aggressive grip of his victims flesh.
Ironically, my introduction to this work held quite a different impression from the obvious violation portrayed. The first image I saw was a cropped side view photo featuring Pluto's hands on Proserpina's waist and thigh, similar to the picture at right. Her profile did not reveal her panicked expression and at first glance I believed that this dynamic moment captured in stone was a dance of erotic entanglement and not one of brutal abduction. To date, no matter how many times I admire and analyze these two struggling figures I often see a less sinister story than the one intended by Bernini's 17th century's depiction of rape.
The influence of that first impressions is still evident in my study "Pluto & Proserpina". In contrast to Bernini's Pluto, my Pluto is rendered with less severity - the pressure and spacing of his fingertips in the act of affectionate caressing unlike Bernini's Pluto who clutches at Proserpina's desperate attempt for freedom. My Proserpina leans into her lover; Bernini's Proserpina pushes away from her captor. I softened the overall mood in my painting by using indigo hues as nightshades and by cropping around the most sensual area of the sculpture. A new story emerged. The Roman god of the underworld has won the heart of his queen.
Medium: 5" x 7" Acrylic airbrush on illustration board. (1998)
"The Rape of Proserpina"
( front view)
Learn more about this sculpture from a blog I stumbled on by Denis McNeil. It is enjoyable reading and a good account of what was going on during the timeframe that this sculpture was commissioned.
Learn more about Bernini
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"The Aegean Shield"
'The Soul of the Seven Sea'
Thessalonike, born around 350 BC, daughter of the Macedonian king, Phillip 11, led an illustrious life filled with the kind of exciting intrigue that legends are built upon. One of the classic mythos involves her brother, Alexander the Great, and his exhaustive search for the Fountain of Immortality. Greek legend claims (*1) (*2) that Thessalonike was immortalized by her brother through his act of bathing her hair in water taken from this fountain. Later, upon Alexander's death, Thessalonike's inconsolable grief tormented her until she flung herself into the Aegean Sea to drown. But instead of death she gained her immortal existence as a mermaid. Thereafter through the passing centuries, mariners who encountered her as they traveled the seven seas would know her as either their guide to safety or the angel of death, for each sailor that had survived her entrancing gaze told the same tale, that she asked but one question, "Is Alexander the king alive?" If the sailors answered correctly, saying, "He lives and still rules!", she would calm the soul of the seas and allow their safe passage. But if they answered with any other statement she would whip the seas into a ferocious storm tossing the men to their watery deaths.
Method and Medium: This piece is a layered computer generated composite of two earlier works painted in acrylic airbrush on illustration board; the raging waters in the foreground are from "Freedom Endures", and the sensual eyes and moon are from "Irresistible Song". Combining these two paintings possessed the fitting elements for illustrating a classic legend.
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"Man Who Is Honest"
By Mario John Bargotti
Lucy West's "Man Who Is Honest" is a masterful work which combines artistic brilliance and phenomenal insight. It was created in response to a person who shared with West their life story of a hellish journey through a world filled with enormous pain and suffering. This painting is the result of the artist asking herself, "How does an individual walk through the fire of life without burning up in the blaze?"
Other questions regarding man's inhumanity to man and his assault on the beauty and love which life is capable of bestowing, confronted the artist. After much soul searching and preliminary studies, being the consummate artist that she is, "Man Who Is Honest" was created. This powerful work illuminates a higher path, one in a direction opposite that of the depraved forces endemic to the human condition.
Within Lucy West's reflective portrait the integrity between the "Man" and Creation is clearly apparent. Through contemplation, meditation, sacrifice and honesty he has achieved oneness with the universe. As the artist relates: "He IS whole in that realm, he is capable of anything positive, he is a vessel of possibilities, he is quiet, he experiences the profoundness of stillness and yet he is incredibly active in his incredible consciousness. He is one with that which has created him. When he is in that place he is good and incapable of hurting another life."
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Visit Mario's 'Cosmic Art & Design' Blog: http://mjbcosmicart.blogspot.com/
Gamlin Lake Trails portrait.
Shortly after my husband and I moved to north Idaho, we were delighted to discover semi-groomed nature trails connecting from the back of our property to a series of winding, canopied pathways that led to Gamlin Lake. We had stumbled upon the Gamlin Lake Trails. The Bureau of Land Management succeeds in maintaining the trails without much interference with the natural rhythms of life in the forest. One of the many elements I treasure most about these environs is that If you don't actually see deer, turkey, elk, moose, mountain lion, bobcat, coyote or bear, you will at least discover some evidence of their comings and goings; tracks, scat, and yes, even remnants of kills.
Over the years the Gamlin Lake Trails have been a big part of our northwest outdoor experience. In spring we hike them submerged in a symphony of diverse bird song; in summer we mountain bike into the deeper interior, in autumn we hunt exotic mushrooms on the forest floor; in winter we snowshoe into thick white forest or across the frozen surface of the lake. Every season offers something new to discover.
Our dogs, Tosca and Tillie, have hiked miles and miles with us in these woods. They are expert explorers of underbrush and deadfall, discovering treasures we mere humans can't see or smell. From our very first hike I was convinced they considered the trails to be a glorious extension of their backyard. When I've been away from the trails for any length of time my thoughts return to images of Tosca and Tillie trotting far ahead of our inefficient bipedal momentum only to return with an impatient grunt or whine imploring us to pick up the pace. Obediently my husband and I have followed.
I often take my camera and shoot my favorite locations, but am regularly disappointed by the end results of the photos. The magic just doesn't come through in a snapshot. This led me to communicate in a more familiar way and put down on canvas the charming affects these trails impart. Using a series of the photos as reference, and my memory, I started "Tosca's Trail" in autumn of '08 and continued working on it through the long winter days with Tosca often napping at my feet next to my easel. By the time spring rolled around the painting was almost complete and I realized that I was painting much more than my recollections of the trails in autumn, I had also rendered the gentle persona of Tosca, her multicolored personality so much like a light-hearted laugh on a sunny autumn day, and captured the metaphor of her late season of canine life, then age twelve.
We adopted Tosca when she was eight years old and as time went by we learned more and more just what a special dog she was and what an important presence she made in our hearts and home. In October of 2010 we unexpectedly lost Tosca to a poisonous mushroom, the spores of which rose from the forest floor to find our very own yard, sprout and lure her to her doom. It was devastating to loose our pet, our friend, a part of our tribe, to such a bizarre event. As we held and soothed her during her last breaths of life I found no comfort in the thought that six years just wasn't enough time with her.
These days my hikes in the trails still seem to be partnered with Tosca. I imagine the sound of her pads walking over fallen leaves or picture her pawing at the ground to investigate a found treasure, or I see her leading the way down a beautiful canopied path into our enchanted forest. Ironically, these are the very recollections I reflected on while painting "Tosca's Trail" as she napped at my feet next to my easel.
Tosca on the blue diamond trail / Gamlin Lake Trails↑
Tosca and Tillie on the yellow diamond trail / Gamlin Lake Trails↑
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About The Artist
International Association of
You can also see Lucy's work at the following NASA sites:
Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory Operations
Lucy's work is also featured on
Discover Magazine by
'The Brush Strokes of Star Birth'
and featrued in Plait's
2012 Best Astronomy Images
posted in SLATE.com
Astronomer Without Borders
The Art of Space
Find Lucy's work featured in
Ron Miller's beautiful book,
"The Art of Space"
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