32 Moon craters named after women
Look at a Moon atlas, and you’ll see a land populated with the names of philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers. Great men like Plato, Aristarchus, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Planck, have been immortalized by naming Moon craters after them, cementing their names in the firmament. But – what about the women? Out of the 1,578 catalogued and named craters on the lunar surface, 32 are named after women – that is barely 2%. I found this percentage to be disappointingly low.
To highlight this issue, I decided to research the locations of the lunar craters named after women using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After capturing the most detailed images of the craters possible, I created a series of 32 drawings on paper, using acrylic paint and graphite. Each drawing is a portrait of a crater, accentuating topographical features, textures, and shadowing.
The next step was to print the craters with a 3D printer, to give them shape and presence. I am especially interested in this three-dimensional representation. A crater is essentially 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 32 women who made such an impact will be thrown into full relief with each sculpture. This process is currently in progress.
One Small Step
Building on this oeuvre is the project One Small Step, which inverts the concave crater shape into a convex crater stamp. This stamp is integrated into a wearable shoe sole that allows the wearer to create Moon craters while walking. I am inviting prominent women currently working in the field of astronomy to wear one of the crater-soles and perform a meditative walk. The title One Small Step is a reference to Neil Armstrong’s famous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” While Armstrong’s use of the term mankind was intended to include women, to date only men have walked on the Moon. The project’s title refers to the exclusion of women in the Apollo program and to the slow progress that is being made in addressing gender equity in the sciences today.
View the One Small Step video on Vimeo
For a deeper dive into this project, please read the article “Women With Impact: Taking One Small Step into the Universe,” which appears in the latest issue of Leonardo/ISAST journal.
To read more about the project, please visit this article which appeared in the Globe and Mail on March 10, 2016. (A the time, only 27 craters were named after women)
As part of an art education pilot project I created a short video documenting myself in my studio while creating one of the Moon crater drawings.
View it here.