UMPI students help create art to wrap around rocket

Posted March 13, 2011, at 6:41 p.m.

Nations dreamed of space exploration in the 1940s, and when that dream came true with Germany’s V2 rocket, people dreamed of taking a walk on the Moon. NASA’s Apollo 11 team realized that goal in 1969 — and with each remarkable triumph, hope is formed for other dreams: personal, communal and global.

It’s fitting that the Saturn V rocket, the monumental vehicle that propelled mankind to the Moon, will be wrapped in dreams from around the world. The Dream Rocket project, led by Jennifer Marsh of Ohio, is an international art project for which 8,000 pieces of art are being collected and assembled to cover the rocket at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Students from the University of Maine at Presque Isle have created five panels to add to the massive quilt of dreams.

“It’s a very open idea. Dream Rocket gives you the opportunity to express your dreams,” said UMPI art professor C. Ann Kittredge, who involved her students in the project. “It could be a real dream you had or a dream for the future or your dream for humanity. It could be anything from intergalactic travel to completing a degree and having a family and children.”

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Marsh founded the nonprofit International Fiber Arts Collaborative Inc. with a mission to reach people around the world and develop dialogs through art that could contribute to social awareness. And Kittredge, who lives in Woodstock, New Brunswick, has been involved with Marsh’s projects from the start.

“It’s exciting to put your work out there and see it combined [with] other people’s work,” Kittredge said. “There’s a synergistic effect. It’s not your just piece anymore.”

In 2008, Marsh launched her first global public art project called the Gas Station Wrap, covering a former Citgo station with more than 3,000 fiber panels that were crocheted, knitted, quilted or stitched together. Kittredge contributed her own panel, along with professional and amateur artists from 15 countries and more than 2,500 grade-school students from 31 states.

The next year, Kittredge asked UMaine students to craft leaves for the Interdependence Tree Project, which brought together the artwork of people from 23 countries and 39 states. And for the Dream Rocket project, she has asked more than 20 students from her “Experience of the Arts” and “Basic Design” courses to work together and create dream panels.

For each piece submitted, the Dream Rocket project challenges artists to “Dare to Dream” on a 2-by-2-foot-square “canvas” made of any flexible, sewable material.

“Ending domestic violence, that was one of my dreams, as well as the cure for AIDS-HIV,” said Jeritt Moran, liberal arts sophomore at University of Maine Presque Isle. “They are a few of my dreams. I can’t list them all. Those are only two of many.”

Moran expressed his two dreams in acrylic paint and red satin ribbons. A few weeks after completing the project, Moran saw his artwork on the international Dream Rocket Project website. He was happy and “kind of felt accomplished.”

“For my panel, I did a person soaring on a fireball away from the Earth,” said Sarah Cowett, a University of Maine at Presque Isle sophomore from Houlton. “The idea behind that is just to soar beyond your dreams and what you think you’re capable of doing.”

Kittredge gave each student a piece of white fabric and taught them about different materials that might work best on that surface. Cowett used acrylic paint to create a richly colored, starry space scene.

“I think it’s pretty amazing and something you don’t normally expect from an average art class,” Cowett said.

“Students often think of art as a painting or sculpture in a gallery,” said Kittredge. “They need to have an idea of what’s going on in the world related to art. I try to broaden their experience of things happening in the art world today.”

Kittredge recently traveled to Ontario for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, for which she created a panel for an art piece contributed to by 105 women from around the world.

“It’s not what I started out to do. I make artwork on my own,” said Kittredge. “It almost becomes kind of an addiction.”

To get an idea of how big this project really is, the Saturn V is nearly 27 stories high. It was developed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center under the direction of Wernher von Braun, and was the largest in a family of liquid-propellant rockets that propelled us to the Moon. A total of 15 Saturn Vs were built. The first manned Saturn V sent the Apollo 8 astronauts into orbit around the Moon in December 1968, and the next year, a Saturn V launched the crew of Apollo 11 to the first manned landing on the moon.

Before the panels are sewn together to cover the rocket for a 60-day display scheduled for May-June, the artwork will be displayed in dozens of national venues. One of the University of Maine pieces is on display at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn, N.Y., through March 30.

The Dream Rocket Team might change the exhibition date to 2012 if members need more time to submit their artwork. If they do postpone the event, they have scheduled shows past May just in case they need to wait to wrap the rocket.

For information, visit www.thedreamrocket.com or call 614-561-9057. For a video about the Dream Rocket Project at Green Gate School in Huntsville, Ala., visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIJndmxSq2o. For a video on the Saturn V rocket, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxgBhvmCuJ4.

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