Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo is headed for the stars. And no, we’re not talking about his unbelievable market.
This morning, a trio of the artist’s paintings that were made for New Shepard, the reusable suborbital rocket built by Jeff Bezos’s private aerospace manufacturer, Blue Origin, took off for space.
The paintings—Self Portrait with Pink Tulips (2021), Shormeh’s Gold Earrings (2021), and White and Gold Head Wrap (2021)—make up Boafo’s “Suborbital Triptych,” which adorned three parachute panels on the ship. One image is a self portrait, and the others are portraits of his mother and of his childhood friend, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, who is also an artist.
“A self-portrait looking up to the skies best explains what this project means to me. I grew up knowing the sky was the limit and now I get to work on a project that goes beyond the sky as we know it,” Boafo said in a statement. “This signifies what is possible when creatives like myself are given the chance to not only break the glass ceiling, but go above it.”
The artist had to use special materials to ensure the artwork would survive its short journey into space and not burn up during its reentry into the atmosphere.
“The paint had an unusually strong smell, so I wore a nose mask the entire time during production. It was watery, so the panels had to be laid flat on the table to avoid unwanted marks. As it dried so fast, I had to work quickly to avoid it drying before the painting was done,” Boafo said.
“We’re honored to fly Amoako’s works of art to space and back on board New Shepard,” a representative for Blue Origin said in a statement. “His stunning portraits capture Black joy and the kind of shared future we hope to create for us all in space: vibrant, beautiful, and full of wonder.”
The unmanned launch took place earlier this morning at the Blue Origin launch facility near Van Horn in West Texas, reports the Associated Press. The ten-minute flight follows a successful Blue Origin launch on July 20 that had Bezos aboard in the company’s first manned mission.
Boafo’s paintings are the first in technology company Uplift Aerospace’s new “Art x Space” program, sending commissioned works of art into space. The project is a collaboration with Blue Origin and is curated by Jill Clark.
“I’m inspired by the idea that this incredible artwork will be lit by distant galaxies, with Earth as a backdrop,” Josh Hanes, Uplift Aerospace’s CEO, said in a statement. “I hope this will allow viewers a closer connection with the cosmos and the precious planet we call home.”
The paintings detached from the capsule as the parachutes were deployed, and will be recovered on the desert floor.
Uplift Aerospace has pledged to make a charitable donation to Boafo’s chosen organizations: Little Big Souls, which supports preterm babies in Africa, and Love’s Closet Foundation, which provides healthcare and developmental assistance to children in Ghana.
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