University News

Collaborative NASA Art Project Coming to Malpass Library Oct. 19

October 10, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – Western Illinois University Department of Art Professor Bruce Walters is turning a childhood love of space exploration into a collaborative art project on the walls of the Leslie F. Malpass Library Friday, Oct. 19.

The project, which runs from 1 – 7 p.m., will be projected on the walls of the Malpass Library's Atrium. The video exhibit is made up of work by WIU graphic design students, musicians, 1,000 Quad Cities area art students who created images and WIU astrophysicist Esteban Araya.

"Exploring NASA," will include multiple projections of images of the Hubble Telescope and International Space Station, children's drawings of astronauts and rockets, launch sequences, radio telescope images and research.

Each of the nine videos and soundtracks included in the exhibit examines NASA in a different perspective.

"My hope is this project creates a unique bridge between art and science," Walters said. "One of my earliest memories is of being at a drive-in theater and the movie was stopped so people could get out of their cars to watch Sputnik pass overhead. I was 2 years old and I remember my dad holding me and pointing toward it."

Walters said the idea for the project initially came from a Smithsonian exhibit at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport (IA) titled, "NASA/Art: 50 Years of Exploration." To pay for the projection equipment and other items needed for the project, Walters received grants from the Iowa Arts Council, the University Research Council and the WIU Performing Arts Society as well as funding support from the Figge Art Museum.

"What really pushed the project was the dawning realization that younger people simply didn't share my connection with NASA – I started talking about John Glenn and they didn't know who he was," Walters said. "After all, they didn't live through the early launches or moon landing. I wanted to present NASA with contemporary music, trying to communicate a sense of wonderment and excitement."

Another exciting component to the NASA project is the inclusion of Queen's song, "We Will Rock You." The day after seeing Queen guitarist and songwriter Brian May perform at the Olympics, Walters said he emailed the artist to seek use of the song. May is also an astrophysicist and Walters said he was very excited to lend the song to the project.

"The next day I was contact by attorneys from Disney and I was granted use of the song for four years," Walters said.

Walter's graphic design students from Western have also helped with the promotion of the exhibit, including creating posters and other materials and attempting to attract media attention.

In addition to the six-hour loop of artwork at the Malpass Library, at 4 p.m. Oct. 19 the volume will be turned up so observers can hear the different soundtracks that accompany the exhibit.

To see the videos or to learn more about the exhibit, visit or

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