In recent months, I’ve been taking note of artists who create work about the cosmos and the possibility of aliens. In Houston alone, there have been shows by Rebecca Marino, MPA, Hillerbrand+Magsamen, and Yayoi Kusama, just to name a few. As far as Texas-based artists or recent Texan exhibitions are concerned, I could go on.
Of course, this isn’t a new thing: artists, and people in general, have always been interested in the potential of outer space. It was unreachable for so long—we only landed on the moon 47 years ago. A deep interest in aliens is so much a part of our culture that we have movie after movie (not to mention television, novels, comic books…) enthralling us with stories of other worlds and extraterrestrial life. In fact, earlier this year, the CIA released hundreds of documents about UFO sightings, including instructions on How To Investigate a Flying Saucer.
It will likely be a long time before we know exactly what’s out there in terms of intelligent life. Voyager 1 was released in 1977 and only entered interstellar space in 2012. It is currently a little over 12 billion miles from Earth. For reference, the closest star system to our planet is Alpha Centauri, which is 4.37 light years away (that’s about 25 trillion miles).
I’m happy that artists here and elsewhere, past and present, have so often looked upwards, past the clouds, and into the outer reaches of space for inspiration. And until a UFO lands on our planet or Voyager runs into something (or someone) surprising, we won’t know which artists are actually on to something.