When Preston Anderson submitted his painting to an online art show, he didn’t expect for it to be shown in a Chicago contemporary art gallery. When he found out his painting would be one of a few hung in the gallery, he was overjoyed.
But the next email put him into a state of disbelief.
“I was like, ‘This can’t be real, like this [has] got to be spam or something,” Anderson said. “This is too good to be true.”
Anderson’s painting “Tunnel Vision,” selected for the exhibition, is one of 76 other artists whose art would be sent to the moon.
The pieces are part of The Nova Collection time capsule. The art will be laser-etched on nickel microfiche, which will be placed in a time capsule on a Nova-C lunar lander for a future launch through SpaceX.
“I think it's so cool that that's something that creatives can be a part of, let alone myself, like that's just an incredible opportunity,” Anderson said.
In the summer of 2020, in the midst of pandemic-related lockdowns, Miami University now-sophomore Preston Anderson stumbled upon an online art show, held by 33 Contemporary Gallery in Chicago, that was taking submissions.
“I kind of took a shot in the dark and decided to apply to one of the shows called ‘Shelter,’” Anderson said. “I just decided, what the heck, may as well just see what can happen here.”
Anderson said the show’s theme was centered around questions like “Where can we go?” and “How can we connect with finding peace within ourselves and within the world?”
While looking back through his work, “Tunnel Vision,” a piece he created in high school, stood out to him. The painting features a child walking through a forest with a red wagon, head down. In front of him stands a dark tunnel.
“It kind of resembles if we're not willing to look up and really take in the beauty around us, we'll only see what we want to see,” Anderson said.
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When he found out “Tunnel Vision” had been accepted for the show, he was shocked.
“It was like disbelief,” Anderson said. “I remember I was at a friend's house and I was like, ‘Is this really true? Like, can you look this up? Can you see if this is actually happening?’”
Grant Gilsdorf, Anderson’s high school art teacher, was the one who told Anderson about the exhibit. The two artists had kept in touch even after Anderson graduated. When Gilsdorf saw the exhibit was taking submissions, he knew Anderson would be perfect for the show.
“[Anderson] was creating gallery-level artwork in high school,” Gilsdorf said, “and the only thing that would have prevented him from being on that level would have just been an ignorance of the opportunity.”
Gilsdorf met Anderson his sophomore year of high school and has continued to mentor him into college. He said Anderson’s work ethic made him stand out.
“What endears me to him is what I think endears a lot of teachers to their students, just that he outworks everybody else,” Gilsdorf said. “He's certainly talented, and talent is great. But what makes Preston truly special is just, he's tougher than everybody else.”
As a business major, Anderson said pursuing art in the future may be complicated, but he’s determined to end up in a career field that will allow him to still do art in some way.
“It's really cool to see my hard work paying off and kind of seeing where it might be able to take me in the future,” Anderson said.
When Anderson created his piece “Tunnel Vision,” the pandemic hadn’t started yet. But now thinking back on what his art could bring to viewers, Anderson said he can see a connection to the current pandemic.
“I think in COVID … it might have been hard for a lot of people to find the better side of things, I suppose,” Anderson said. “So I thought this piece might be able to resonate with some people and kind of emulate that idea of shelter.”