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Archive for the ‘Art Contests’ Category

NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement Student Art Contest

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

NASA Moon Base Art
NASA Moon Base Credit: NASA

I enjoy judging art contests. I particularly enjoy judging space art contests. I concluded my most recent space art judging experience Monday evening. In this case it was judging the student art that had been submitted to the National Space Society’s Roadmap to Space Settlement Student Art Contest.

The goal of the contest was to get students to create art that could be used to illustrate the NSS Milestones to Space Settlement: An NSS Roadmap – a document that was created for the purpose of laying out for the public the major milestones that will likely have to be passed and the major barriers that will have to be overcome in order for humanity to achieve the NSS vision of "People living and working in thriving communities beyond the Earth and the use of the vast resources of space for the dramatic betterment of humanity." The contest was organized and managed by Lynne Zielinski, the NSS Vice President of Public Affairs (and a member of the Chicago Society for Space Studies).

Unfortunately the contest was run on a very tight time line. The contest was announced on March 25 and the submissions deadline was April 22. Typically art contests provide much more time – both to provide time to promote the contest and to allow artists time to create their submission. However NSS wanted the contest completed in advance of their annual International Space Development Conference (May 23-27).

In spite of the limited time frame the contest received over 300 submissions. Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of these submissions were rejected since they did not meet the contest’s guidelines. Eliminating these non-qualifying submissions left the judges with 14 artworks to evaluate. This was reduced to 13 when it was discovered that one of the submissions was a fraud. The artist claimed to have created his submission using Photoshop and GIMP but the artwork was actually a NASA produced image of a lunar base! I have used that NASA image to illustrate this article. You may have previously seen this image on the NASA or Space.com web sites.

Judging art can be quite challenging at times. However, a well designed set of judging criteria that includes specific elements on which to judge the art helps. For this particular art contest, judges were expected to evaluate the art based on the following elements:

  • the art features one of the milestones listed in the Roadmap to Space Settlement
  • the milestone depicted contains sufficient evidence of accuracy
  • the art is a realistic depiction
  • the art represents more factually based science than fictional science
  • the art uses accurate perspectives
  • the art provides an uplifting, positive message of our future in space
  • the art contains a high level of detail.
  • the art appears to be created in a manner that is consistent with the method described by the artist.
  • all elements of the art appear to be created by the artist

Each judge independently graded each image after which we met to confirm the grand prize winner and to ascertain how many First Prize and Honorable Mention awards would be given out. In the end it was decided to give one First Prize and one Honorable Mention award. The Grand Prize Winner was the entry Asteroid Mining Module and the First Prize Winner was INSPIRE Life – both of which topped my list point wise. An Honorable Mention was awarded to Jupiter Orbital Space Settlement.

It is likely that this contest will be held again next year and, hopefully, I will once again be asked to participate as a judge.

Reference Links

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Judging Art for the Humans in Space Youth Art Competition

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Humans in Space Youth Art Competition
Humans in Space Youth Art Competition

Last evening I finished judging 97 works of space art that has been submitted to the second international Humans in Space Youth Art Competition. It was my good fortune to have served as a judge in the first contest as well. I can’t tell you how happy I am to not only see the contest back for a second year but to also see an explosion in the number of entries submitted.

Contest partners include NASA, DLR German Aerospace Center, USRA (Universities Space Research Association), Lunar and Planetary Institute, Mission X, and the International Academy of Astronautics. The theme the artwork was expected to address is How will humans use science and technology to explore space, and what mysteries will we uncover? With respect to the contest’s goals:

The international Humans in Space Youth Art Competition encourages youth to “Be Inspired, Creative and Heard.” We ask them to think about the future of human space flight and to creatively communicate their ideas, and we promise to make these ideas viewable worldwide. By including the next generation in the planning of the future, the competition aims to enhance their awareness, interest in and support for human space flight, and to allow their ideas to begin shaping the future now.

The contest accepted submissions from March 9, 2012 thru November 18, 2012 from young people of 10 to 18 years of age, split into two groups: 10–13 years and 14–18 years. Submissions were accepted in the categories of visual, literary, musical and video artwork. Along with the artwork, each artist was expected to include an Artist’s Statement of Originality. The purpose of this statement was to provide information that would help judges to understand, appreciate, and evaluate the art. The winning artwork will be woven into displays and performances designed to relay the artists messages to a world wide audience. Most exciting for contest winners is the opportunity that their winning artwork might be displayed in orbit aboard the International Space Station!

Judging the Art

Youth Space Art Contest Entries Judged
The 97 Youth Space Art Contest Entries Judged

I had elected to be a judge in the Visual Art: 2D Visual Art category for the 14-18 year old age group. A special web site had been created for judges to view and rate the art submissions. Each judge is assigned a subset of the submitted art due to the large number of submissions received. When I log in to the system I see the art that has been assigned to me to judge. The only downside to this system is that I am limited to viewing only one work of art at a time (unless I open multiple browser windows).

Visual art judges were directed to judge the art based on the following criteria:

  • Aesthetics (Shapes, colors, textures, flow, proportions, composition, etc.)
  • Skill (Are knowledge of the media or principles of art demonstrated?)
  • Inherent meaning (What is the story or statement?)
  • Creativity (Is the artwork creative and original?)
  • Fulfilled intent (Does it meet the objective to express something about How will humans use science and technology to explore space, and what mysteries will we uncover?)

Additionally judges were asked to consider the scientific accuracy of the art. For example, if your character is walking around on the Moon then they had better be wearing a space suit.

In assigning ratings, judges were expected to assign equal numbers of 4, 3, 2, and 1 star ratings. To better judge the artwork, I downloaded the hi-res version of all the art to my computer. I then used Adobe CS4 Bridge in order to both view the art side by side, rank the art, and sort the art by rank. My methodology was to start from the ends and work inward. By ends I refer to first identifying the strongest and weakest artworks. Identifying 1-star and 4-star submissions was fairly easy. Much more difficult was distinguishing between the 2 and 3 star submissions. Upon completing my initial judging I found that I had the following distribution of rankings:

-Stars- -Allowed- -Given-
4 25 10
3 24 35
2 24 38
1 24 14

My distribution made it clear that my principal course of action was to promote art from the 3 star category to the 4 star category and demote art from the 2 star category to the 1 star category. Promoting and demoting was, predictably, the most difficult part of the judging process. In the end I did achieve the distribution of stars that judges were expected to award – though it was not easy.

The second round of judging will begin later this month with the entire process scheduled for completion in January 2013 and the winners to be announced shortly thereafter.

Links

In my own view, the important achievement of Apollo was a demonstration that humanity is not forever chained to this planet, and our visions go rather further than that, and our opportunities are unlimited.
Neil Armstrong – Apollo 11 astronaut and first person to set foot on the Moon

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Best of Earth As Art Contest

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Yukon Delta
The Yukon Delta

To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA are sponsoring an Earth As Art art contest. In the contest you can vote for up to 5 pictures from the selection of 126 Earth images. Voting closes on July 6. The five winning images in the Earth as Art contest will be announced on July 23 in Washington, D.C. at a special event commemorating the launch of the first Landsat satellite.

While the purpose of these images is to provide scientific information, a great many of them are strikingly beautiful. Spectacular views of mountains, valleys, islands, forests, grasslands, and agricultural patterns have a rather unique aesthetic appeal. The combination of natural features that have been colorized using a digital palette produces images that are not only beautiful but also informative. It is worth noting that the Earth as Art concept was preceded by the Mars as Art and Sun as Art programs that were a consequence of robotic missions studying Mars and the Sun.

About the Landsat Program

Built by NASA and operated by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Landsat satellites supply Earth scientists, land-resource managers, and policy makers with data about changes to the global landscape. Some changes, like floods or volcanic eruptions, occur quickly while others, like urban sprawl or regrowth from forest fires, appear gradually. Landsat records these and many other changes to the Earth’s landscape – whether man made or induced by natural processes. NASA is preparing to launch the next Landsat satellite in 2013, which will be turned over to USGS for operations and data distribution.

Australia Great Sandy Desert
The western region of Australia’s Great Sandy Desert

Earth As Art Images

You can download full size versions of the Earth As Art images but to do so requires that you register for an account on the USGS Earthexplorer web site. To register for an account visit https://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/register/.

Earth As Art Contest Web Site

As previously noted the contest is open until July 6 and you may vote for up to 5 images. To view the contest entries and vote, visit eros.usgs.gov/eaa_voting/

Reference Links

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Space Art Contests Galore

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

NASA Space Art Contest
VSP Illustration from NASA Space Art Contest

It seems that right now there are a number of art contests going on whose theme is space exploration. So if you are into art and into space – then you may want to enter one or more of these art contests.

NASA Future of Flight Art Contest

First there is the NASA Future of Flight Art Contest which is open to High School and College students around the world. This was formerly the The Moon: Back to the Future art contest in which I participated as one of the judges. The Future of Flight Art Contest includes both prizes and exhibit opportunities. Winners will be announced in June 2011.

Entries are in four categories: two-dimensional, three-dimensional, digital, literature (poetry and short stories) and video. Entries will be evaluated on creativity and artistic qualities. Entries are due no later than April 15, 2011.

Take me to The Future of Flight Art Contest

NASA and Etsy 2010 Space Craft Contest

NASA and Etsy have teamed up for the 2010 Space Craft Contest. Hurry because the deadline to enter is November 2, 2010. The purpose of this art contest is "to celebrate artistic exploration and commemorate the end of the NASA Space Shuttle Program with a creative challenge: Share an original handmade item or work of art inspired by the NASA Space Shuttle Program and space exploration at large." The top prize is a trip to an upcoming Shuttle launch as NASA’s VIP guest. There is mention that your artwork might even be flown to space aboard the Space Shuttle!

Take me to the NASA – Etsy 2010 Space Craft Art Contest

SEDS Video Ad Contest

SEDS – Students for the Exploration and Development of Space – is hosting a video contest. The challenge is to "develop an awesome ad for SEDS-USA that shows the world what our organization is all about!" A panel of judges, including William Pomerantz of The X Prize Foundation, William Watson of the Space Frontier Foundation, and Gary Barnhard of the National Space Society, will vote for the winning entry. All entries will be shared online via Youtube.

Hurry – the deadline for entering the video contest is November 2, 2010.

Take me to the SEDS Video Ad Contest

IAA Humans in Space Symposium International Youth Art Competition

The International Academy of Astronautics is sponsoring a art contest as a part of the International Academy of Astronautics Humans in Space Symposium to be held in Houston Texas in April 2011. The IAA is asking artists to address the question "What is the future of human space exploration and why is it important." Contest entry categories include music, art, video, and literature. The contest deadline is December 3, 2010 and is open to student artists who are 10-17 years old.

Take me to the IAA Humans in Space Symposium International Youth Art Competition

Okay all you artist out there – enter one or more of these art contests for your chance to win! And be sure to let interested students know about these contests as well.

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The 2010 NASA Moon Art Contest

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

NASA Art Contest

Last night I finished casting my votes as a judge in the NASA Life and Work on the Moon Art & Design Contest. The art contest is open to all high school and college students. This is the third year NASA has run this contest and this is my third year as a judge for the contest. The contest has really grown in terms of the number of submissions received. NASA has Elizabeth Ward, the art contest’s coordinator, to thank for that. Judging the first year was pretty easy in that it didn’t take much time. This year was another matter entirely. The number of submissions has grown dramatically.

The judging criteria has changed somewhat from the previous contests. In the contest’s first year, judges were expected to evaluate submissions based on the Artist Statement (worth 20 points), Artistic Elements (worth 30 points), Creativity (30 points), and Validity (20 points). Dropped from the criteria after the first year was the artistic elements component. This year the judging criteria are Artist Statement (20 points), Creativity and Artistic Expression (50 points), and Validity (20 points).

For the Artist Statement, students are to explain what inspired them, what artistic media they chose and why, and anything else they want to say about their artwork. Not surprisingly the quality of the artist statements was as varied as the quality of the submission.

The Creativity and Artistic Expression was more subjective as there are no really definable standards to guide a judge – other than their own experience. For example there was one artwork that was pretty good artistically but the imagination that went into creating the piece led me to give it more points than I would have on purely artistic grounds. Another judge may have responded quite differently.

In many cases, judging Validity was the most difficult. Validity refers to the scientific accuracy and degree of understanding of the space environment. For example in the case of a painting that consists only of a space suited astronaut walking on the surface of the Moon – does the person really understand that environment? Some artists did not reveal a lack of understanding in their art but did so in their artist statement. Others made their degree of understanding, or lack thereof, apparent in their art. For example, people without spacesuits on the Moon is kind of a dead give away.

In spite of the large number of submissions I felt compelled to vote for all submissions in the visual categories. My rationale was that voting for some but not other works would skew the final results in that the way in which I award points is likely to be different than the way in which other judges award points. The visual categories for the contest are 2D art, 3D sculpture/dioramas, Digital art, and Video. The two categories in which I did not vote were Literature and Music.

The Biggest Pleasure
What I found most rewarding about the experience was having the opportunity to review the art, think about its meaning, admire its quality, and read the artist’s words about their intent and inspiration.

The Biggest Disappointment
What I found most disheartening was that overwhelmingly the art depicted NASA facilities on the Moon. I know it is a NASA art contest but if we are going to have a large scale human presence on the Moon, then realistically it is going to take more than a government agency to make a go of it. When I go to the Moon, I want to hit Starbucks for my latte, stay at the Lunar Hilton, and dine at the local Uno’s. So while many of the students participating in the art contest showed a solid grasp of the lunar environment and what we could do on the Moon, I don’t recall any of them really featuring the role of private enterprise.

Conclusion
Given the recent decision of the Obama administration to cancel NASA’s plans for a return to the Moon, I will be most interested to see what happens with respect to the future of this art contest.

Links

To get details on the 2010 contest, visit the NASA Life and Work on the Moon Art & Design Contest site. You may also want to take a look at the Winners of the 2009 art contest

I previously wrote about the NASA art contest in the following blog posts:

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BLUECANVAS Art Contest and New Art

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

With A Flourish
With A Flourish

The folks over at BLUECANVAS Magazine are having an art contest with the winners to be published in the next issue of their magazine, that being issue five. The deadline for submitting art for the contest is April 16, 2010 and there will be 4 to 6 winners chosen. The theme of this contest, BLUECANVAS Magazine’s second such contest, is solace and artists are asked for their interpretation on this theme. From the contest web site, There is no right or wrong interpretation, we just want to see what you come up with.

There is no fee to enter the contest. Instead the magazine requires that those wanting to participate in the contest create an account with BLUECANVAS, which is free; put your art in the art gallery associated with your account, and then contact the magazine and inform them which item(s) in your gallery you wish to submit to the contest. You can see the profile that I created for myself at http://www.bluecanvas.com/jimplaxco/

The stated judging criteria for submissions are originality, technique, and title/description. There is a limit of 3 submissions per artist. For complete contest details, see http://www.bluecanvas.com/contest.php

The theme of solace is an interesting choice. I don’t have anything in my existing body of work that would be appropriate for this theme and at the moment I’m drawing a blank on what I could create that would be appropriate.

The New Art

To illustrate this post I’m using digital art that I just added to my web site titled With A Flourish. For complete details, see the With A Flourish gallery page.

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