An Indian’s brushstroke with a space art gallery
Amritha Warrier is the lone Indian among 50-odd artists whose works have been fired into space
Little did Amritha R Warrier, glued to animated cartoons on television in her Bengaluru home as a 10-year-old, know that she would one day do what none of her countrymen have achieved. Forget working towards a goal, what if one achieves something which one had never dreamed of?
Today, 22 years later, Warrier is the only Indian among 50 artists who have sent her creations to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 8, which are now hovering miles above our heads.
An engineer-turned-artist, Warrier always felt disconnected with the corporate world, and eventually resigned from her high-paying job in a leading IT company in India to chase her dreams. With a masters in animation film design from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Warrier did land a job, but found no satisfaction there either. Soon, in June 2019, she began freelancing and projects started slowly approaching her by early 2020.
As fate had it, the Covid-19 pandemic hit every profession and Warrier suffered too. “It was a difficult time,” she says, adding that was when the whole NFT and crypto boom started.
She started making animations as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), albeit being a little apprehensive of the space. While others produce about 60 NFTs a year, Warrier takes three months to create one. “I’m confident of my skill. This is where I can express my thoughts and emotions, ”she says.
It was late last year, in November 2021, when Jaen, a French artist, introduced Warrier to The Big Dream – a global art piece by a collective of artists (DreaMe) from across the world. They aim to empower the imaginative side of everyone and enable anyone to turn their ideas, stories, memories and dreams into art, says Sharonna Karni Cohen, co-creator at DreaMe.
The team had collected about 50,000 dreams from across the globe – from children to the aged – and wanted to turn 500 of them into art. That is, 10 pieces each for the 50 artists (over 60 per cent of whom are women) that work on them.
Warrier, who goes by the artist name ‘Vanilla Punk’, is part of the team, which was grouped from various backgrounds and techniques, ranging from clay to collage, from 3D to illustration. “Vanilla means boring, punk means a rebel; Well, I could be a mix of the two, or neither, ”she says on her unusual artist name.
The big dream
“The Big Dream was born in 2017, in collaboration with the Embassy of India in Israel. I was introduced to Dr Anju Kumar, and we had an immediate connection. I pitched here the idea of The Big Dream, an artwork envisioning the future of the Middle East, and my personal dream that I can travel on a train directly from Israel to India, implying that we will have peace with all the countries en route. We collected thousands of dreams and then commissioned a local artist in Tel Aviv. After, we scanned the artwork and sliced it into 1,500 yoga mats, ”Karni Cohen says.
She continues, “It was a very moving event. Many of the dreams were related to more rain and on the day of puzzling it rained, June 21st, when it rarely even rains in May in Tel Aviv, let alone June. The power of bringing dreamers together for a collective vision in that instant became a clear mission to me and one that truly made sense. ”
The 500 art pieces that were created were exhibited in several places – Leopold Museum, Vienna; Chengdu, China; Mount Manaslu, Nepal; Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; the Old Royal Naval College in London; Fed Square in Melbourne; Times Square, New York and many more.
At Fed Square, Australia
At Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The next location is the International Space Station – the unveiling is expected to have happened on April 14.
“Astronaut Eytan Stibbe, the second Israeli in space and our partner, alongside The Ramon Foundation and Axiom, is the one who unveils the artwork,” says Karni Cohen. Axiom is the first private mission to the ISS. Stibbe will project the final piece and heat map connecting all the dreams with the world through the Rakia Mission Control Center in Tel Aviv.
Rakia Mission Control Center in Tel Aviv, Israel
“Inside the video that will be projected in the International Space Station, you will see a combination of the art and the drawings by kids. In addition, Stibbe is taking a flag, with a design of some of the dreams turned into art and 100 random dreams, which has also been to the top of Mount Manaslu and Mount Kilimanjaro, ”she says.
Live from the Rakia Space Command Center exploring the dream map and the live location of the @Space_Station You can see some of the dreams turned into art here and many more on https://t.co/otWe5v9ggW Thank you for hosting us @RamonFoundation and to Sagi Gafni our map creator pic.twitter.com/FybHyirsVT
– DreaMe – Floating in the ISS 🛰 (@DreameArtwork) April 13, 2022
The heat map also has an interesting feature. When you point your cursor at one of the dreams on the map, it presents you with several similar other dreams from different corners of the world.
The pieces were up for auction at the Nifty Gateway, a niche category of NFT marketplace (https://niftygateway.com/collections/bigdreamopenediton), until April 14. “We have made it affordable so that the maximum number of people can buy it., ”says Karni Cohen.
A portion of the money made through the auction will go to the artists and a major chunk will be diverted to NGOs, who can work towards realizing at least a few of those 500 dreams.
As for Warrier, the buck does not stop here. An owner of six NFTs so far, this 32-year-old is a fan of Adventure Time, an American fantasy animated TV series, and dreams of making her own animation episodes; that is if enough funding comes through.
She recently took to Twitter to say women are under-represented as animators.
😐 I am never leaving animation! pic.twitter.com/duOEq1CL3k
– Vanilla_Punk on the ISS 🚀🛰️ (@Vanilla__Punk) April 11, 2022
“I always wanted to make my mark. There’s no go-to book here as is the case with other professions. And as far as my future is concerned, I’m never leaving the field, ”she signs off.
April 14, 2022
Amritha Warrier is the lone Indian among 50-odd artists whose works have been fired into space Little did Amritha R Warrier, glued to animated cartoons on television in her Bengaluru home as a 10-year-old, know that she would one day do what none of her countrymen have achieved. Forget working towards a goal, what if…