Astronaut and artist Sian Proctor headlines ASU’s Space2Inspire events this weekend

Astronaut and artist Sian Proctor is headlining Space2Inspire this weekend at Arizona State University as part of ASU’s Black History Month celebration. (Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU)

Astronaut and artist Sian Proctor is headlining Space2Inspire — a hands-on community event this weekend featuring science demonstrations, panel discussions and a Black-History-Month-inspired art mosaic in Sun Devil Stadium that will be photographed from space.

As mission pilot for SpaceX’s Inspiration4 in 2021, Proctor was the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft and the first Black commercial astronaut. The Arizona State University artist- and explorer-in-residence and its XRts Immersive Media Fellow will help lead discussions with other astronauts, artists and scientists during Space2Inspire events Friday through Sunday, Feb. 17-19.

The weekend is part of ASU’s Black History Month events, offering immersive activities open to all to celebrate Black history and culture.

Starting at 6 p.m. Friday, ASU offers a free screening of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” at Sun Devil Stadium. Kimberly Carson, marketing manager for ASU 365 Community Union, said Proctor, who has an art series called Afrobotica, and a movie producer from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will “talk about how Afrofuturism is tied into the development of Black Panther,” along with other artists and speakers. There will be stargazing on the field following the movie.

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Proctor will help make and set up large art mosaics on the ASU football field.

“An orbital satellite will be over Sun Devil Stadium, miles and miles away, and it will take an image of the mosaics and everyone else who is in the stadium on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 10:30 a.m.,” Carson said.

The movie and art/stadium events are free, but tickets are required by registering at VIP ticket packages for more activities are available for $35-$55.

After the space snapshot, attendees can enjoy hands-on science activities until 4 p.m.

“Guests will have some interactive hands-on experiences with some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities like 3D printing, demos of astronaut spacesuits and some cool activities that people can come swap around at different stations around the stadium,” Carson said. “People can come out and interact, hear and learn from a handful of different astronauts.”

Ed Dwight, the first Black American astronaut candidate, NASA astronauts Nicole Stott and Cady Coleman and Egyptian astronaut Sara Sabry will also take part in the weekend events.

Related story

A virtual reality film series is also being shown as part of ASU’s Black History Month festivities. Wonderspace, an immersive art company, is partnering with the ASU School of Arts, Media and Engineering to host a virtual reality film series called “Traveling While Black” from noon to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 18-19, at the Stauffer Communication Arts Building at ASU’s Tempe campus. Tickets are $10-$16.

“The film itself, the content is very touching, very moving,” said Pavan Turaga, professor and director at ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering. “The film is a series of interviews with generations of Black families and folks who have participated in civil rights movements, and it shows how the experience of traveling has changed or not changed since the 1930s-40s, to the 2000s.”

The filmmaker used a 360-degree camera, so viewers are more immersed in the scenes. The film is not interactive, but participants will wear virtual reality headsets to view the film.

“The filmmaker is one of the first Black men who’s won an Oscar for any kind of directorial venture,” Turaga said. Director Roger Ross Williams was nominated for outstanding original interactive program in 2019.

“It challenges our assumptions of the safety that we experience in America, or how the notion of safety is different for different folks in America,” Turaga said.

For its Black History Month celebrations, ASU West Campus will be hosting a cooking demonstration at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the West Sun Devil Fitness Complex Kitchen in Glendale.

Chef Martin Johnson will teach participants how to make a dish that can easily be made in a dorm room or basic home kitchen. Johnson is making a traditional macaroni and cheese with a side of garlic-tossed green beans and vegan options.

“Growing up in the kitchen with my mom, I think this was the first meal I ever made, and I’ve been cooking ever since then,” said Johnson, who encourages participants to come ready to laugh.

“I think it is a great thing to teach other people how to make other items — especially things they may not be used to making or things we may really enjoy but don’t know how to make,” Johnson said. “I’m making meals that I made with my family growing up in North Carolina, and these are things we enjoyed making and me and my family love, and I hope other people will love as well.”

Abigail Scott AB-ih-geyl skot (she/her)
News Reporter, Phoenix

Abigail Scott expects to graduate from the Cronkite School with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in public relations. Scott has an interest in local news coverage as well as international reporting.