Montreal artist Bettina Forget investigates this celestial nomenclature.
How do we make sense of our place in the cosmos? We project our stories into the stars, connecting random points of light to create heroes and villains. We give names to the craters of the Moon, honoring our great philosophers and scientists. This is how we turn the cold vacuum of space into our home, how we connect with the universe.
Out of the 1,605 named craters on the lunar surface, 27 are named after women – that is 1.7%. Naming something, especially a place, is an expression of ownership. What is lost when the female presence is omitted? To explore this question Bettina pinpointed the lunar craters named after women using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After capturing the most detailed images of the craters possible, she created a series of 27 drawings on paper using acrylic paint and graphite. Each drawing of the “Women with Impact” series is a portrait of a crater, accentuating topographical features, textures, and shadowing. A crater is a void, a hollow in the regolith. The void echoes the underrepresentation of women in positions of power, in the scientific canon, and in history. The void also speaks to its opposite: each crater is a result of an impact, a shattering of the calm surface. The 27 women who made such an impact are thrown into full relief with each drawing.
The painting “Treasure Hunt #2” was created using a planetarium software to produce an accurate star map. Look closely, and you will spot nebulae, supernova remnants, and star clusters hidden in the constellations.
The Moon and the night sky – both deserve a closer look.
Bettina Forget is an artist, the owner and director of Visual Voice Gallery, and the Art/Science Researcher of the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).