gillian lying on a desk in a flat with orange lighting

Explorer Ready (Or Not): Art and Astronomy

I have always loved art and astronomy.

When I was little, I loved reading Seymour Simon’s picture books about the planets. When my sisters and I started a newsletter called “Girls Express” for our homeschooling, I researched and wrote articles about each of the planets. I read The Elegant Universe at thirteen and taught a little class on it to my homeschooling group. I *almost* double majored in dance and astrophysics, but I was weak on physics and I didn’t want to deal with the data that comes with the subject, so I just majored in dance instead.

Astronomy has always been around in the background, something I read about and keep track of. But this year, it’s started to blend into my artistic work in the most interesting and surprising way.

It started simply with a new podcast I found, Astronomy Cast. Something about it and the way the hosts approached the topic intrigued me, one thing led to another, and I found my way to an organization called CosmoQuest and its associated discord community. That was right when the quarantine hit, and they were expanding their streaming programs and asking for suggestions. I suggested an art show, and about a month later I was hosting it myself. My first guest was an astrophysicist named Paul Sutter who had consulted on a dance performance about time, and literally since then I’ve hosted a show almost every week, finding the most amazing guests. Sometimes I do solo shows, reading astropoetry or performing – I’m still planning on a series about solar eclipse-based art in history.

Right around the time I joined the CosmoQuest, I was introduced to a Facebook group for artists making space-related art. I didn’t, but I joined anyway. My first attempt was a dance about the Trappist-1 system.

Since then, I’ve made a few different pieces, and through the guests on my show, have met other incredible artists and science-artists.

My most recent work was a funny full-circle kind of thing – CosmoQuest had a special virtual conference and I decided to collaborate with my very first guest, Paul Sutter, who had just released a book entitled “How To Die In Space.” I reached out and he happily provided narrations. I built it all together into this piece, called “Explorer Ready (Or Not).” While I didn’t have time to properly research the movement, I was really happy with how it turned out.

Check it out below and let me know what you think!