Wading River Artist Anna Jurinich Sends Her Art to the Moon

Anna Jurinich and her painting “The Delusion and Persistence of Peace”
Anna Jurinich and her painting “The Delusion and Persistence of Peace”

It’s not uncommon for artists to dream of seeing their work proliferate beyond hometown galleries or coffee shops, eventually landing at influential big city venues and museums, and even other countries across the world. And while this may seem like the ultimate achievement, it turns out that one area artist’s work is leaving this planet and finding a home on the Moon.

Wading River painter and Dan’s Papers cover artist Anna Jurinich recently had two of her paintings selected to be part of the Lunar Codex, a thrilling project that’s sending a massive trove of art, writing, music and film aboard a spacecraft destined for the Moon. A time capsule of sorts, the collection of work will remain on the lunar surface for future generations — and perhaps even extraterrestrials — to find and explore in order to better understand humanity and our culture at this unique point in our history.

The Lunar Codex is also spreading hope, joy and wonder here on Earth right now, during a particularly dark time for our species.

Anna Jurinich Sends Art to the Moon

A 74-year-old native of Croatia, Jurinich describes her inclusion in the Lunar Codex as a wonderful feather in her cap and a powerful legacy after a long career as an artist, full of achievements and disappointments. But, she explains, all it took to happen was for her to summon the courage to ask.

“I hate to tell people, it was the easiest thing I ever did as far as my career goes,” Jurinich says, pointing out that her husband heard about the project while watching the news about two months ago. “He said, so why don’t you do that?”

After a bit of scoffing and giving all the reasons why she wouldn’t or couldn’t, the artist says she came around to the idea. “All of a sudden I sat there and I said, ‘Well, you know, I’m going to try to figure that out.’”

A quick Google search on “Art going to the Moon” led her right to lunarcodex.com, an expansive website detailing the Lunar Codex project and its creator Dr. Samuel Peralta, an artist, thinker, storyteller, physicist, entrepreneur and executive chairman of Incandence in Toronto, Canada.

NASA concept illustration of astronaut on the Moon
NASA concept illustration of astronaut on the MoonNASA

She emailed the site’s general mailbox and shared her story of escaping Croatia (then Yugoslavia) with her parents at age 11 and coming to America, where she excelled at art as a child, eventually leading her to attend Parsons School of Design on scholarship and then studying in Florence, Italy. Jurinich’s career highlights include painting covers and illustrations for books and magazines, showing at dozens of galleries and winning a numerous awards and grants.

“I’ve developed a strong empathy with people who leave,” she says, discussing her psychologically complex, diaristic and often surreal work. “People who leave their country, their people, their family, their music, their food, the way the atmosphere looks — every country you go, there’s a different feel. You leave that,” Jurinich continues, pointing out that she shared this in the message when she asked to be part of Dr. Peralta’s project, and explained why her work was made for the mission. She never even sent an
image.

“That was at 9 p.m. The next day at 10 a.m., I’m at my computer checking my emails thinking, I’ll never hear from these people,” Jurinich says, but then she saw it: Dr. Peralta had replied with a request to add two of her paintings to the Lunar Codex. “The Delusion and Persistence of Peace” and “The Yellow Vase” were destined for the Moon.

“It’s amazing, I can’t believe it,” the still overjoyed artist says, recalling that exciting moment.

“When I read that email, my husband was sitting out on the deck — it was already 11 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and I’m running down, and I just stand in front of him. He was reading the newspaper, he looks up and he says, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I’m going to the Moon!’”

“The Yellow Vase” by Anna Jurinich, acrylic, 23 x 30 , 2017 is going to the Moon in the Lunar Codex
“The Yellow Vase” by Anna Jurinich, acrylic, 23 x 30 , 2017

Dr. Samuel Peralta on Sending Art to the Moon

“She is really good,” Dr. Peralta says, offering his first impressions of Jurinich’s work. “She basically wrote me, sent a message to the website’s ‘more info’ section, so I reviewed all the work that she had,” he continues. “Usually we don’t reply if the work is not up to a certain standard, obviously, but hers was excellent, so it was just a matter of choosing the work that would be included.”

Dr. Peralta says his selections reflected a dichotomy within Jurinich’s overall milieu. “One of them was a statement on the persistence of peace and the morality of it. The illusion of a lasting peace, but you have to keep striving for peace even though the peace is transitory. That spoke to me very strongly, especially with the kind of environment we’re in at the moment,” he says of “The Delusion and Persistence of Peace,” which depicts a stunned woman holding a dove as it burns into her naked chest and doves die around her.

“The other piece was a floral piece with a red-headed woman. And just the brilliance of colors in that made me feel a lightness that was somewhat opposite to the other one, which was more serious, so I thought they would make a good balance,” Dr. Peralta says of the second acrylic painting on paper, “The Yellow Vase,” showing a woman lying beside a beautifully rendered vase of flowers and fruit on the ground next to her.

NanoFiche will hold thousands of tiny images destined for the Moon
NanoFiche will hold thousands of tiny images destined for the MoonLunar Codex

How Art Will Survive on the Moon

Images of Jurinich’s paintings will represent the United States and Croatia, and join works by some 20,000–25,000 other artists from 101 countries on analog NanoFiche technology which can store 150,000 pages of text or photos on a single 8.5 x 11-inch sheet. Made with nickel, NanoFiche is currently the highest density storage media in the world, is impervious to temperature and humidity, and has a near-zero degradation factor.

“The nickel-based ones will last, the technologists tell me, hundreds of thousands of years, if not longer,” Dr. Peralta says of this lunar Rosetta Stone, noting that music and film, which cannot be etched onto NanoFiche, are being sent via special memory cards that are shielded from radiation but have a shorter lifespan. “Those won’t last hundreds of thousands of years, but they will last long enough,” he says. “The point of the technology is to compress everything in as small of a space as possible. Because otherwise the costs for launching physical objects into space becomes very prohibitive.”

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the first Moon landing, 1969, Photo: NASA
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the first Moon landing, 1969, Photo: NASA

Dr. Peralta points out that the Lunar Codex uses space reserved for the project in three physically separate MoonBoxes, which will be consolidated in a single time capsule and attached to the lunar landers.

“If you imagine the old Apollo landers that land on the Moon and basically stay there, they will be physically on the lander. So the lander becomes, if you like, a landmark where all the art and music and films and writings are being stored,” he says, adding, “The object of NASA is to eventually put humankind back on the Moon, so I’m putting the payloads on landing companies prior to the human landing.”

NASA Artemis Base Camp plan for the Moon
NASA Artemis Base Camp plan for the MoonNASA

Artemis Base Camp: NASA’s Permanent Moon Colony

If all goes according to plan, NASA does indeed intend to return to the Moon and begin the process of creating their Artemis Base Camp, a permanent outpost at the lunar south pole. The project will begin with unmanned flights very soon (“wet dress rehearsals” were underway as recently as Monday, June 20) with the goal of humans landing by 2024. Over time, as this camp expands and we learn from data collected on the Moon, Artemis will become the launch point for future missions to Mars.

And a vast cache of art and culture will already be there waiting.

Art on the Moon Helps Artists on Earth

“A lot of these artists are exceptionally good artists and they labor for the love of their art without a lot of recognition,” Dr. Peralta says of Jurinich and the thousands of others who will enjoy the privilege of having their art on the Moon. “One of the things the Lunar Codex tries to do is not just preserve these slices of our cultural time, but also to tell these artists that you’re seen. You don’t work in isolation, your work is valued, valued enough that we think it should be preserved for the future. And I think that’s one of the big messages that we want to say.”

Full Moon
The Moon will soon welcome a library of Earth’s cultural artifacts.

He continues, “It should inspire not just Anna, but other artists who labor simply for the love of their work, that one day somebody could come out of the blue, pluck their work from obscurity, as it were, and say, ‘You’re destined for the Moon.’”

Visit lunarcodex.com to learn more about the Lunar Codex. You can see more of Anna Jurinich’s work at annajurinich.net.

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