By Julia Travers
The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest space telescope ever built, scheduled to launch in the fall of 2018. NASA is inviting artists of all genres to use the telescope as a source of inspiration to create new artworks which will be curated into NASA’s social media.
This public call for JWST-inspired art is an outgrowth of an artist gathering that NASA held in late 2016. At the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, pre-selected artists were invited to view the JWST and create related artworks in a variety of media and formats. These works will be exhibited at the center in the spring of 2017 (date TBA). The artists’ responses to the telescope encounter were created through diverse processes including 3-D design, letterpress printing, painting, textile creation, poetry writing, silk screening, woodworking, jewelry making, music composition, tattooing, poster design, and sculpting.
The JWST site explains, “Though we were only able to physically accommodate a small number of artists, we were so impressed by the number of talented people who were interested in participating. We want to offer more artists a chance to participate virtually.”
To participate in this virtual open call, share your newly created artwork on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #JWSTArt, or email an image directly to firstname.lastname@example.org (email is preferred for video or sound files). NASA may share your work on social media or use it in a slideshow at the aforementioned spring exhibit. Artists can check out the project’s full terms and conditions for contributors here.
The JWST arose from a 20-year collaboration between NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency. JWST will provide images of our neighboring solar systems as well as galaxies formed over 13.5 billion years ago. JWST is comprised of a spacecraft bus, which carries it and controls communication, the telescope, and a protective sunshield. It will capture images in red and infrared light with unprecedented sensitivity—it’s 100 times more powerful than Hubble. The main, 6.5-meter mirror of this telescope is visually striking; it holds 18 gold-covered beryllium ore hexagonal mirrors. This enormous primary mirror, with its glimmering bee-hive mystique, is already central to many of the artistic responses.
The telescope is still undergoing pre-launch calibration and testing, and you can keep up to date with the telescope team’s progress on their JWST news page. You can also follow JWST on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.