I didn’t watch the moon landing. I wasn’t alive yet. And until recently, I haven’t been very interested in learning about it. For the past month, however, I have been thinking about the moon and the moon landing a lot. I’ve been reading and learning about the moon and the artwork it has inspired both before and after the moon landing.
The 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 is on July 20th–less than a week away. My dad has been reminding me for the past month. He grew up in Houston and watched the moon landing, so he has strong memories associated with it.
Honestly, I didn’t care about the moon growing up. I wasn’t fascinated by the moon and the stars like some kids. The moon is far away and most of the time I can’t see it due to cloud cover, light pollution, trees, and buildings. Yes, it is incredible that NASA built a spaceship and flew astronauts to the moon. However, it felt so improbable to have actually occurred. The historical event felt as real to me as a James Bond movie. Perhaps because it was before my time, the moon landing didn’t feel real and thus felt irrelevant.
However, since researching the art and literature it provoked, the moon and the moon landing have become much more accessible, relevant, and oh-so awesome. These works helped me unpack the many meanings the moon carries.
It makes sense that the moon has inspired so much. The moon is a very inspiring subject. It’s far away (238,900 mi) yet close relative to most everything else in space. It’s also related to Earth (having formed after a collision between the Earth and Theia 4.5 billion years ago). It has been present to all of human kind’s history (much like those eyes watching over Gatsby). It provides a beautiful source of light at night by reflecting the sun. It is ever present yet always changing. Its cyclical and symbolizes rebirth. And finally, it is preserved–uninhabited and unclaimed by any nation. The moon landing is a inspirational subject as well. Humankind accomplished what was seemingly impossible.
View more moon related artworks on the Tate’s website.
What does the moon mean to you? If you witnessed the moon landing, how did it effect you? Is astronomy a source of inspiration? Is space irrelevant in the 21st century?
Experience the moon landing in Houston, by visiting the following…
July 20-September 2: Shooting the Moon: Photographs from the Museum’s Collection 50 Years after Apollo 11, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
July 20: A Giant Leap: The Moon Landing's 50th Anniversary, Discovery Green
July 27 + 28: Cosmic Perspective - an art show about space!, Texas Art Asylum
“Moon” by Luke Jerram, The Houston Museum of Natural Science
September 20-December 21: Moon Shot, Moody Center for the Arts, Rice University
Unnatural Wonders: Essays from the gap Between Art and Life, Arthur C. Dantol
The Moon—From Inner Worlds to Outer Space, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
The Moon: Myth and Image, James Cashford
“Kiki Kogelnik - Fly Me to the Moon”, A Place Called Space
“The Meaning of the Moon, From the Inkas to the Space Race”, Andrew Dickson, The New York Times
“Imagining the Moon”, Shannon Stirone, The New York Times
Snoopy, First Beagle on the Moon (Peanuts), Charles M. Schulz - published very recently (June 2019), includes 2018 discovery of water ice found on the moon’s surface!
“Drawings by Migrant Children in Texas Catch the Smithsonian’s Eye”, Jacey Fortin, The New York Times
“Why Supreme’s (Mis)Appropriation of Barbara Kruger’s Art Matters More Than Ever”, Jacob Victorine, Heroine
Bojack Horseman, Netflix (seriously recommend)
A Trip to the Moon, Georges Méliès, 1902
Lunar Almanac, Malena Szlam
“Episode 1: This Is the Way Up”, The Habitat