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The Saturn V rocket, responsible for launching all the missions to the moon, was the largest and most powerful rocket ever built. The Dream Rocket project aims to completely cover a 38-story, 363-foot-tall Saturn V rocket replica at the U.S. Space and Rocket center in Huntsville, Ala., with a massive 32,000 square foot quilt. The quilt will be made from thousands of hand-crafted panels from students, teachers, and individuals from more than 100 countries and 50 states.
Heading up the project is Jennifer Marsh, an artist and founder and director of the International Fiber Collaborative (IFC). Marsh’s previous large-scale public art pieces include the wrapping of an abandoned gas station in central New York state and the Tree Project, where participants from around the world contributed handmade leaves that were affixed to a large man-made tree. Marsh, who is drawn to using textile techniques and fiber materials in nontraditional ways within the sculptures she creates, says it was a feeling of disconnect from the world that lead her to pursue large-scale public art displays.
“My sense of apartness came from a sense that only a select group of friends, professors, and family members ever saw my artwork,” she said. “Its impact seemed less empowering, less important, and very inward. While traveling and teaching in India during graduate school, I realized how truly powerful the arts and crafts are to cultures all around the globe, and how they are interwoven with the daily lives of those peoples. I began questioning the relationship to and expression of art in one’s life.
“Through the Gas Station project in Syracuse, N.Y., and the Tree Project in Huntsville, Ala., I was able to reach out to people all over the world to bring their efforts together in a joint collaboration. The pull of this interaction with people from all cultures and stations in life proved irresistible to me. It’s always an exciting moment to open a package from a faraway place and to read the story of why that person chose to participate. Sometimes they are heartbreaking stories. Other times, they seem to connect with an innocent joy in life. Then, I try to visually weave them into a larger narrative.”
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The Dream Rocket is Marsh’s latest project with the IFC, and she says wrapping a massive rocket in handmade panels helps people connect art and science.


“In a manner, one might see art as man’s protoscience,” Marsh said. “Some of the earliest examples we have of man’s attempt to explain, to communicate, and to determine his world are the art and artifacts he left behind. Through time, we have developed science and technology to explain and shape our world, but we have not strayed that far from our ancestors urge to create and to shape.”
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University of Alabama in Huntsville President David Williams said of the Dream Rocket project, “A crucial element of both art and technology is the importance that creativity plays in both disciplines for the benefit of society. We applaud Professor Marsh’s initiative to bring together the dreams of a world through artistic elements and tie those inspirations to one of the most enterprising engineering projects in history.”
Marsh said the Saturn V rocket is an ideal example of achieving a dream that was considered “impossible.”
“By wrapping it with our dreams, it is an inspiring visual reminder that any dream can come true,” she said. “It we can work together to put man on the moon, we can achieve the future of our dreams.”
Marsh answered more of our questions about the Dream Rocket project , and we here at CRAFT and MAKE were so inspired, we’ve purchased 5 panels our teams will create over the next few months to contribute to the project. You can do the same. A group of 2 foot by 2 foot panels has been released for just $20 per panel. You can have a crafty place in history by participating in the Dream Rocket project. Read more on the Dream Rocket website.
Can you give us the basic background of the Dream Rocket project?
Participants are being challenged to dream about their future and the future of our world. They will be considering dream themes such as community, science, technology, conservation, space, peace, and in doing so express their dreams through the arts and crafts. The wrapping of the Saturn V will represent possibly the world’s largest collaborative art project. Both powerful in message and in scale, it hopes to inspire participants not only to dream, but also to pursue their dreams.
The Dream Rocket project is part of a new non-profit organization called the International Fiber Collaborative, whose mission is to reach communities around the globe through art and contribute to social awareness, creating unique and inspiring projects. In 2008, we launched the Gas Station project. With help from professional and amateur artists from 15 countries and 31 states including more than 2,500 grade-school students, we covered a 50-year-old former gas station — pumps, light stands, signs, and all. These 3,000 fiber panels were crocheted, knitted, quilted, or stitched together. Then in 2009 came the Tree Project, realized with the help of more than 8,000 students, 62 schools, and quilters from 23 counties and 39 states. The Tree’s canopy consisted of more than 14,000 handmade leaves, it was 32 feet tall, and mimicked the shape of a live oak.
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As panels are received by the IFC, they will be photographed and cataloged on the Dream Rocket Flickr group. Some panels will be displayed at various art showings across the country over the next year. Can you describe what the panel shows over the coming months will be like?
Upon receiving many panel submissions, we were so impressed by the work that went into the panels and their accompanying stories that we felt it would be wonderful to provide a more intimate viewing across various places and venues. The shows will be juried; however, we have been successful in getting the majority of the submitted panels into shows. The venues themselves will determine how many panels they can display and in what mode they can accommodate their display. Other requests from the venues will, of course, be respected. We have tried to provide a variety of venues, from ones that are more child-oriented to others which are more craft-oriented or [aimed at] the general public. A further goal is to display some panels close to the areas from which they originated. Included in the displays will be the accompanying stories from the individual panels, as well as an overview of the entire project. Participants will be notified of their panel’s inclusion in any venue. Presently, we have 14 venues committed but we could add more as the project develops.
How long with the rocket remain covered?
The Saturn V Rocket will be wrapped for 60 days in total, May and June of 2011.
What will happen with the panels once the cover is removed?
Once the wrap is removed from the Saturn V rocket, we hope to continue inspiring schools, groups, and individuals around the world with the efforts and dreams of our participants. Our plan is to schedule a multiple year tour to museums, galleries, libraries, and children’s museums. The tour would contain participant’s panels, along with their stories and documentation of the completed project, including a short film. We might even be able to include original wrappings of the rocket fins or of the capsule on top. My goal would be to show these in as many countries and states as possible. Of course with a project of this magnitude, we feel that the panels, the wrap itself, and the message it hopes to inspire will have a much broader and far-reaching life through print, video, and electronic media. My vision is to publish various books on the project, with inclusion of the images of submitted panels and their stories. The Dream Rocket also has applied to Guinness World Records for the tallest structure to be completely wrapped with a quilt. We hope to hold this record and to have the wrap be included in various Guinness World Record publications.
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What kind of photo documentation will be done of the rocket once it’s wrapped?
Of course at present, our main focus is with realizing the wrapping of the Saturn V. Documenting panels on the rocket should be relatively easy compared to the wrap itself. If our previous projects are any indication, thousands of photos will be taken of the wrap by professionals and individuals. We plan to have a wrap map and telescopes on site for people. I have also spoken with an individual who has a miniature helicopter which carries a video and a still camera on board. That may be another option. Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that thousands, if not millions, of people who view this wrap will be viewing it through the internet and other media, unable to visit the wrap in Alabama. For this reason, it is important to remember that we are photographing each panel and posting it, along with its story, on our Flickr account, accessible through the Dream Rocket website.
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Regarding the recent changes and challenges in America’s space program, what do you hope this project will do for space enthusiasts in the U.S.?
People seem to think of the space program as just human beings in space, but it is so much more than that. It affects our daily lives from a fisherman at sea, to a researcher communicating with a colleague around the globe, and even to a family sitting at home watching TV. There are countless products and processes which have benefited from the space program. Future space enthusiasts will discover things of which we have not yet dreamed. But, my interest lies with the broader terrain of education in general, science and technology being a vitally important part of that. We cannot know where the future will take us, but we are empowered by communication, education and even art, that most human of qualities, to take us there. We need them all.
Resources:
Dream Rocket website
Dream Rocket Flickr Group with pictures of every panel submitted
Dream Rocket on Facebook