12:46 PM

'Project Mars' Exhibition Partners NASA, O'Kane Gallery

In 2018, NASA invited college students and novice art professionals to share their excitement in an art competition about the space agency’s goal of returning to the Moon, with the ultimate aim of placing a person on the surface of the planet Mars. The University of Houston-Downtown is happy to house the winning entries in its O’Kane Gallery for a two-week special event, “Project Mars,” beginning Jan. 16.

Included in the exhibition are four films and eight posters produced by young artists from all over the world. In each is an expression of genuine optimism and a refreshing inclusivity that communicates NASA’s ambitions while skirting conventional company messaging. The moving and still images bring back the memories of delighted astonishment of anyone who witnessed the first Moon landing. More information about the artists can be found at www.ProjectMarsCompetition.org.

Judges for the competition were an impressive assembly from a variety of backgrounds, including Gareth Edwards, film director for such movies as "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"; Joshua Grossberg, Vice President, Creative at McCANN, New York; Samantha Christoforetti, Astronaut at the European Space Agency; Mickey Fisher, Writer and Producer for such programs as National Geographic Mars and SyFy Extant; retired Astronaut and now artist, Nicole Stott; Bobak Ferdowsi, Rocket Scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and Tim Dodd, Photographer and Space Evangelist on social media.

The “Project Mars Competition” was co-organized by NASA and SciArt Exchange. ​Using a multi-disciplinary approach, the nonprofit SciArt Exchange supports, prepares, and convenes people of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations to discuss and potentially solve future space, science, and technology challenges. SciArt Exchange was conceived based on the international Humans in Space Art Program, which invites participants to communicate creatively about the future of space and uses their multimedia artwork in displays and performances that engage others. To date, this Program has inspired over 9,000 participants from over sixty countries and three million artwork viewers and listeners worldwide.

"It's an honor for both UHD and the O'Kane Gallery to host these works," said gallery director Mark Cervenka. "Houston is home to Johnson Space Center, and to present these finalists in the 'Project Mars Competition' in the heart of downtown is great for our university and our gallery."

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.

U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.