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Today in Lansing: 'The Earth From Space'

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“The Earth From Space”

3 to 5 p.m.

Abrams Planetarium

755 Science Rd., Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

SATURDAY, Feb. 23 Before the decisive flashpoint of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, East Lansing artist Alixandra Summitt was commissioned to do a set of painted panels one week prior to the moon landing.

She bucked the traditional themes for her imagination of what the future would hold when astronauts from the Apollo mission saw the Earth from space from the surface of the moon.

“I had a barn studio and saw holes in the ceiling and the slats in the roof shining light on the canvas. I started painting what I saw and went to my imagination for the rest,” Summit said.

Her collected five 13x6 foot canvases of work, “The Earth From Space,” were exhibited briefly throughout Lansing in 1969 before being rolled up for the past 50 years. They’ve traveled with Summitt from state to state, house to house until today.

Since being dusted off, Summit’s vibrant works during a landmark event for the human race will be seen once more at her artist’s reception.

“It hasn’t really been seen for what it is until now,” Summit said. “This will be the first time it was seen as intended to be displayed since 1969. It was supposed to be shown during the night in blacklight, but no one came in during that time to see it.”

Abrams Planetarium director Shannon Schmoll said Summit’s work clicked in nicely with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing as a local connection.

“Astronomy sparks the imagination for a lot of people. So much of our understanding of the universe is to some extent an artist interpretation: We can't fly to a nebulae. We have to look at a telescope.”

Images are made through filtering and stacking color from data, Schmoll added.

“This is the inherent artistic side in astronomy anyway. This data by itself inspire art by artists like Alixandra.”

It was surreal to watch the moon landing a week after her work and see images broadcast from the Apollo mission, Summit said.

She watched the news from a 9-inch television in the same family barn where she painted “The Earth from Space.

“The images were all black and white because the contrast is strong. It wasn’t just because of the tech. It really is black and white and nothing to create color. It was sheer fantasy.”

More events in Lansing:

7 to 10 p.m., The Robin Theatre, 1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

4 to 7 p.m.,

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