Acrylic - 24" x 36"
When I started this painting, the major theme concerned the power of the human intellect to light our way into the universe. The balls in the picture came from a conversation I had with my son Adrian about space travel.
Explaining my sense of despair about the inadequacies of the space program, I was telling him about my childhood dream to be on a spaceship that went to Mars and how I felt that the human race would never get there.
I quoted an article by Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson called “Space: You Can’t Get There From Here” that I had read in Natural History Magazine. He outlined the [mostly unrecognized] scale of the problem of human space travel: "Space is vast and empty beyond all earthly measure....The Moon is far when compared with where you might go in a jet airplane, but it sits at the tip of our noses compared with anything else in the universe.
If the Earth were the size of a basketball, the Moon would be the size of a softball some ten paces away — the farthest we have ever sent people into space. On this scale, Mars at its closest would be a soccer ball a mile away. Pluto, a baseball 100 miles away. And the nearest star to the Sun is a half million miles away."
Adrian shared my interest in astrophysics and cosmology. When he posed for this, he was a physics major in college. His response was that previous generations had also thought that many goals were impossible, but that technological advances and advances in scientific understanding brought them into realization.
I'm not sure. We may have missed the window in which the collective will and the resources necessary for such a trip could sustain and pull off such an effort. Adrian felt I was being unduly pessimistic, so that’s him in the painting lighting my way.
Adrian, of course, went on to earn his PhD in Astrophyics and this personal work eventually became a cover for BEYOND SCIENCE FICTION, a book collecting a major retrospective exhibition held at the Riverside Art Museum in 2017.