Judging the 2014 NSS Space Settlement Student Art Contest

Arcturus Space Settlement
Arcturus Space Settlement by student artist Bogdan Alexandru Cionca

Sunday night you would have found me on a conference call judging the art that had been submitted to the National Space Society's Roadmap to Space Settlement 2014 International Student Art Contest. I previously wrote about this art contest in December: Roadmap to Space Settlement 2014 International Student Art Contest.

I do enjoy judging space art contests because not only is the artistic composition and skill of the artist judged, but so too is the realism, accuracy, and practicality of the artist's vision with respect to space engineering. For this contest, artists were expected to create art that satisfied either of two milestones outlined in the National Space Society's Roadmap to Space Settlement (the link to the report has been removed as it is now 404). The two milestones were:

  • MILESTONE 18: Exploration, Utilization and Settlement of Asteroids.
  • MILESTONE 19: Construction of Orbital Space Settlements.

In judging the art, judges were expected to evaluate the submitted art based on the following criteria:

  • The art had to compositionally satisfy either milestone 18 or 19 shown above.
  • The art had to be a realistic depiction of a space settlement or associated activities. For example, the works of Chesley Bonestell, Pat Rawlings, or David Hardy are examples of the realistic representation of space development activities.
  • If the art is an interior scene, then there has to be some aspect of the artwork that makes it clear that the setting is not of this Earth. Obviously the easiest way to satisfy this criteria is to provide a window through which can be seen the surface of the Moon for example.
  • The artwork should have an uplifting, positive message. On the flip side, art depicting battle scenes or criminal activity, etc. were not to be considered.
  • The art had to be non-offensive and family-appropriate.
  • No art with identifiable individuals, real or fictional. The sole exception was if the artist wanted to include themself in the art.

With respect to this art contest, there were three things that disappointed me.

First, I was most disappointed to see over the course of the contest submissions of art that had been taken from NASA and commercial sources and submitted as original works. The contest rules were quite clear on the requirement that the submitting artist be the creator of the art submitted. Fortunately none of these works made it into the contest's art gallery. As I did during last year's contest, I advised the committee to issue a ban for life for anyone submitting stolen art to the contest.

Second, it was a real disappointment for me that there was not one single submission from a student from the United States. (Note: I'm not aware of the nationality of those submitters whose art was rejected on the grounds of plagiarism or inappropriate content). So kudos to the student artists from India (6), Romania (4), and the Czech Republic (1).

Third, I was disappointed that there were not more submissions to the contest. I think this was due to the lack of promotion for the contest.

Back to judging the art, I was surprised by how easy it was for us to reach a consensus. According to the contest rules, we were to award one grand prize, up to 10 first prizes, and optionally an honorable mention. We awarded one grand prize, one first prize, and one honorable mention.

The Grand Prize went to Bogdan Alexandru Cionca, an 11th grader from Romania, for the submission Arcturus Space Settlement which illustrated the asteroid-related milestone. This is the artwork I've used to illustrate this post. We awarded a First Prize to Aleksandra Voinea, a 12th grader also from Romania, for Asteroid Mining near Mars, another asteroid-related artwork. Lastly we awarded an Honorable Mention to Tudor Tomescu, an 11th grader from Romania for Ancesius Asteroid-Mounted Settlement. So it was a clean sweep for students from Romania.

The contest results are now up on the National Space Society web site. To view the winning entries and all the other art that was accepted into the contest, see the (art contest gallery no longer available) Gallery for NSS Roadmap to Space Settlement International Student Art Contest (2014).

In closing, if you are a student artist with an interest in space exploration, NSS is expecting to run the contest again next year (December 2014 – March 2015) so keep your eyes open.

| Return to the Blog Index | This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 at 5:48 pmand is filed under National Space Society, Space Art, Space Exploration.

2 Responses to “Judging the 2014 NSS Space Settlement Student Art Contest”

  1. William Bliss says:
    May 17, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    You need to stop promulgating the false notion that humans will live long term in space, on the surface of the Moon, or the surface of Mars, without protective radiation shielding.

    Both the solar and cosmic radiation doses are way too high unless 50 feet, or more, of shielding exists. Seeds and long lived plants exposed to sunlight, and therefore cosmic radiation, will either become sick or slightly radioactive due to continuous meson bombardment.

    We must promote space colonization, but fanciful drawings of huts on the Moon's surface, or glass covered spinning space stations, simply hurts the ability of science educators to explain what really must be done to establish industrial production in space.

  2. Jim Plaxco says:
    May 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Hi William,
    It is worth noting that the artwork for this contest was from students. I would also add that if you look at the relevant artwork that has been produced by NASA you will see that it too lacks the sort of shielding that you suggest is necessary. Additionally, the radiation flux varies and is not omnidirectional. These factors combine to make a storm-shelter approach more practical.

    Lastly I am curious to know the source of your 50 feet of shielding requirement.