Around the World in 90 Minutes
An Astronaut's Perspective
27 May - 26 June 2016
This May and June, NASA Astronaut (Ret.) Nicole Stott brings her debut exhibition, ‘Around the World in 90 Minutes: An Astronaut’s Perspective’ to the Sayle Gallery. Since retiring from NASA in 2015 Nicole has been using her painting and photography to interpret and translate her experience of the 104 days she was blessed to have spent living and working amongst the stars, and the wonders that she experienced as a crew member of Space Shuttles Atlantis and Discovery, and the International Space Station (ISS).
It was in 2009 that Nicole made her first journey into space aboard Space Shuttle Discovery as a member of Expedition 20 to the ISS. During her residence in space Nicole would participate in 3 shuttle flights, 2 ISS Expeditions (20&21), 1 spacewalk, and a broad range of scientific research projects, which included flying the station’s robotic arm for the first track and capture of the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle cargo vessel.
On ISS Expedition 21, Nicole took with her a small watercolour set with which to paint some of the incredible views of the Earth below her as she orbited the planet every 90 minutes. These were the first paintings to be created in space, and required a slightly different approach than they would have on Earth. Without gravity the paint acts differently, balling up and floating around when wet, so Nicole would apply the minimum amount of water required to the paint, and suspend it within the bristles of the brush before applying them.
These paintings became a passion for Nicole, providing a vehicle with which to share her experiences in a way that was not always possible through words alone. In 2015, after nearly 28 years, Nicole retired from NASA, choosing to continue sharing her experiences through her art. Now working primarily with oils and acrylics, Nicole also incorporates elements of mixed media and photography into her paintings. Fragments of sea glass, stones, and textured gels have all played a part in expressing the shapes and forms of the Earth’s surface when viewed from 250 miles away.
“I am thrilled that the premier presentation of my artwork is happening on the Isle of Man. The Island is a very special place to me (and not just because my amazing husband and his wonderful family are Manx). The Island is a special place of beauty - in its landscape and its people.”
Nicole began her career with NASA at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, working as an Operations Engineer, and subsequently Manager on a number of projects for shuttles Endeavour and Columbia, and the ISS. In 1998 she relocated to Houston, Texas, where she joined the team at Johnson Space Center, as a part of the NASA Aircraft Operations Division, serving as a Flight Simulation Engineer, participating in the training of Astronauts on the Shuttle Training Aircraft, and the affectionately named ‘Vomit Comet’.
In 2000 Nicole was selected to become a Mission Specialist, as which she undertook 2 years of Astronaut training, before being assigned roles in Astronaut Operations.
2006 saw Nicole serve as part of a 6 person crew on the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 9 mission, where she spent 18 days living and working on the Aquarius undersea research habitat.
Images courtesy of NASA Johnson Space Centre
Through her experience as an engineer, Astronaut, and now an artist, Nicole has become an advocate of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Mathematics), a way of promoting education through the application of learning in one field to others, and making learning relevant to the real world. With her painting and public speaking, Nicole is able to promote the work that NASA continues to do in space on a daily basis that benefits our lives back on Earth.
“The Isle of Man has a special role in space, and I was very happy to be able to take a little bit of the Isle of Man with me on my journey to space. I am also very happy now to be able to share with you some of that spaceflight experience and some of the impressive things happening every day, through this exhibition here on the Island at the Sayle Gallery.”
'Around the World in 90 Minutes: An Astronaut's Perspective' will run at the Sayle Gallery from 27th May - 26th June 2016, and is presented in association with ManSat and the Isle of Man Arts Council.