Over the Moon: A Love Story of Art and Tech

Over the Moon: A Love Story of Art and Tech

I grew up with the space program. NASA was founded in 1958, when I was a young girl, and like most schoolchildren across the U.S., those early astronauts — Alan Sheppard, John Glenn — stole my heart, and my imagination. Anything felt possible, in those days. If Americans could land on the moon, where couldn’t we go?

My impossible dream came true, too, when I founded and became president of what is now one of the world’s preeminent arts universities. This summer, I was invited to give a talk at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on the topic of art and technology, and you can guess exactly what I did next. I accepted. After all, NASA helped me dream, as a child. What an honor it would be to speak at this historic site that has powered the imaginations of Americans and the world for generations — and on a subject so close to my heart and work.

Art and technology: Are they such strange bedfellows? The imprimatur of both can be seen on the greatest achievements of human civilization, from the Great Pyramid of Giza to the marvels of modern space travel. The power that moves artists and designers — the human imagination — is the same power that advances science and technology.

In the years before I founded SCAD in 1978, I had become quite familiar with the power of the human imagination when I served as an elementary educator in the public schools of Atlanta, Georgia. My students were as mesmerized by the triumphant stories of the space race as they were by Tutankhamen. Like the timeless works of history’s greatest artists and designers, NASA’s accomplishments expand our vision of what’s possible. This same expanding vision of the possible has characterized my life at SCAD, although on a more terrestrial scale.

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