Local artist makes history on the moon

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By Joanne E. McFadden

Capital Region Independent Media

South Westerlo artist Tammy Liu-Haller

WESTERLO — When future generations of humans make their way to the Earth’s moon, they might discover an artistic time capsule that includes the work of South Westerlo artist Tammy Liu-Haller.

The artist will be helping to make history this year when her artwork is deposited on the moon as part of The Lunar Codex, a collection of the works of 6,700 contemporary creative artists that is scheduled to go to the moon this year and next. The project will make history as the first to launch the artwork of women to the lunar surface.  

In May of last year, Liu-Haller saw the news on Facebook that her work, “Snapshot Series #4: Solace,” would be included in the project.

“Of course, I was ecstatic,” she said.

“Solace” was originally exhibited at Chicago’s 33 Contemporary Gallery in the exhibition “Shelter,” a collection of works by artists from the PoetsArtists group. The Lunar Codex’s founder and curator, Toronto-based author, physicist and entrepreneur Samuel Peralta, curated that exhibition.  

“Artists were asked to submit work that featured an object, place or memory that signified comfort and tranquility during quarantine,” Liu-Haller said.

For her family, that meant in their own backyard, as they spent three months working outside when the lockdown hit.

“It became our daily routine and gave us purpose during that time,” she said. “My daughter and I would often sit on the ground coming through the stones around the garden, talking and sharing the ones we liked best. This drawing is of the actual spot we would sit in. So, when I see this image, I think of the comfort we found within our family during that time.”

An image of Liu-Haller’s 8×8 charcoal and graphite drawing will be laser-etched on a nickel microfiche, enclosed on a lunar lander, and placed on the moon in perpetuity. The nickel microfiche is designed to withstand the moon’s humidity and temperature changes.

Artist Tammy Liu-Haller’s artwork, pictured, will be sent to the moon as part of The Lunar Codex. Contributed artwork

Peralta has the opportunity to purchase space for The Lunar Codex on the commercial payloads that are being launched to the moon as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS) in preparation for NASA’s Artemis Program, which plans to land humans back on the moon in 2024 for the first time in over half a century. From 2021 to 2023, NASA is sending scientific instruments to the moon in preparation for the mission. Along with NASA equipment, the missions will carry commercial payloads, including The Lunar Codex.

Peralta has divided The Lunar Codex into three time capsules that will be launched in 2022 and 2023. The first to go, “The Peregrine Collection,” is planned for a spring 2022 landing at Lacus Mortis. “The Nova Collection,” which includes Liu-Haller’s work, is scheduled to be delivered to Oceanus Procellarum by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C Lander in June 2022. Oceanus Procellarum, which translates from the Latin to “Ocean of Storms,” is a vast plain on the western edge of the moon’s near side, formed by volcanic activity billions of years ago. “The Polaris Collection” is currently slated for a summer 2023 delivery to the Lunar South Pole.

While The Lunar Codex focuses heavily on visual art, it also includes poetry, stories, books, music and screenplays, among other art forms.

“I would like others to see the plethora of talent that existed among our artists. And to know that just because technology surged to new heights and became of greater importance, our artistic talent wasn’t lost. “

Artist Tammy Liu-Haller

Peralta began the project, which he is funding himself, during the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to spread hope during this challenging time.

“The Codex instills the Moon with some of the heart of humanity, our art, so that when we look to the sky, the Moon is a tangible symbol of hope, of what is possible when you believe,” he wrote on his website, www.lunarcodex.com.

He also intends for The Lunar Codex to be “a message-in-a-bottle to the future,” showing those who find it how the world turned to art during tumultuous times on Earth.

“I would like others to see the plethora of talent that existed among our artists,” Liu-Haller said. “And to know that just because technology surged to new heights and became of greater importance, our artistic talent wasn’t lost. We were still creating.”

After Chicago, “Snapshot Series #4” went on to be exhibited in Liu-Haller’s first solo exhibition at Denver’s Abend Gallery, and the piece, along with others, can be viewed at the gallery’s website, www.abendgallery.com.

With shifting time schedules, the June 2022 date for the Nova Collection’s approximate three-day, 240,000-mile journey to the moon is tentative. As for her part in history?

“There are so many variables involved with the launch — I don’t think it will fully sink in until the capsules have safely landed on the Moon,” Liu-Haller said.

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