Scobee to mark Challenger anniversary through art

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Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Francis R. Scobee, signs copies of “Star Challengers: Space Station Crisis” for students from McAuliffe, McNair and Scobee middle schools after the VIP grand opening of Scobee Education Center Oct. 31, 2014. File

Dr. June Scobee Rodgers, widow of Challenger commander Francis R. Scobee, signs copies of “Star Challengers: Space Station Crisis” for students from McAuliffe, McNair and Scobee middle schools after the VIP grand opening of Scobee Education Center Oct. 31, 2014. File

Deadline for entries is Dec. 11; submissions can range from paintings to sculptures.

By Wally Perez

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

To honor the 30th anniversary of the Challenger shuttle disaster, Scobee Education Center will host an art exhibition with artistic interpretations of the crew members, their legacies, scientific achievements and space exploration.

The center, which is named after Francis R. Scobee, former student of this college and flight commander for the fatal Challenger STS-51-L mission, is accepting artist submissions for the Jan. 25 exhibit at the center.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 11.

“The Challenger STS 51-L accident is one of those historic events that shook the people of the world,” center Director Rick Varner said in an email interview. “There are only a handful of significant events that can create such concrete memories in so many.”

On Jan. 28, 1986, the NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff because of a component failure, claiming the lives of all seven astronauts on board.

Original paintings, drawings, photography, mixed media and sculpture will be accepted with a maximum artwork size of 48 by 48 inches and no smaller than 16 by 20 inches.

Sculptures must include the required dimensions for the base, if not included in the work, and art must be ready to hang.

Artists should send up to two high-resolution photographs of their work in JPG format along with the attached entry form.

A jury will review the submissions and choose a number of entries to be displayed based on the dimensions of the artwork and floor space available for the exhibition, which will last eight weeks.

Works may be offered for sale following the exhibition period and all proceeds will go to the artist.

Each week will emphasize a different Challenger crew member.

“We’re going to incorporate something about each member into presentations given during that week,” Varner said.

In addition to Scobee, the Challenger crew comprised pilot Michael J. Smith; mission specialist Ronald McNair; mission specialist Ellison Onizuka; mission specialist Judith Resnik; Gregory Jarvis, an engineer; and Christa McAuliffe, a schoolteacher who was set to be the first teacher in space.

Jarvis and McAuliffe were payload specialists, or candidates who were experts in their field of work and beneficial for certain missions.

Researchers say art becomes more meaningful when it connects to a memory and is seen in person, Varner said.

“The Challenger tragedy should evoke the memories and emotions that are uniquely complemented in a respectful way by artwork,” Varner said.

Scobee also has seven monuments to honor the crew in the Holt Foundation Challenger Memorial Garden.

Flowers will be placed on the monument of each astronaut during their specific week of remembrance beginning Jan. 28.

“During the eight weeks of the art exhibit, we want to create a memory that will leave with the visitors and live with them as they travel into the future,” Varner said.

Varner is in charge of the events during the anniversary.

Planetarium programs spotlighting crew members will also be available during the anniversary, and the exhibit will run until spring break, March 14-20.

The educational mission of the STS 51-L crew continues through the efforts of surviving family members and the Challenger Learning Center, Varner said.

To participate in the exhibit, visit alamo.edu/sac/scobeeart, call Varner at 210-486-0402 or email rvarner4@alamo.edu.

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