Arthur Woods Biographical Information
I was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, USA in 1948. In 1959 my family moved to Merritt Island, Florida where I lived until 1970. As Merritt Island is where the Kennedy Space Center is located and just across from Cape Canaveral, I personally witnessed the beginnings of the U.S. space effort. Members of my family worked at the space center and while a university student, I held jobs at the space center during the Apollo program in the summers of 1967 and 1968.
I studied art, literature and psychology at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. After graduation in 1970 and completing U.S. military service in 1972, I began my art career in California before moving to Switzerland in 1974 where I now live and work. I am married to Heidi and have two children, Louis and Alexander.
The early personal experience with space exploration was a powerful motivation for me to maintain an active interest in the latest scientific and technological developments associated with space development and to eventually integrate these experiences into my art. Europe has provided a deep cultural context for my later artistic development.
Painting & Sculpture
Proton - SPS - Mir, 1988
Triptych - each painting 160 x 120 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
The job of artists and scientists is to interpret and describe reality. When painting an image of a chair, the artist is trying to convey the essence and "being" of the chair. Scientists look at the material world and create explanations for form and function of everything we experience.
Early in my art career, I turned to science for a contemporary description of reality.
What I discovered and what has influenced my art ever since, was a description of the universe at the microcosmic level consisting of sub-atomic particles in an inseparable network of interactions. These interactions involve a ceaseless flow of energy which gives rise to the stable structures of the material world which is the macrocosms. The structures that make up physical reality do not remain static but are transient and oscillate in rhythmic movements. Thus our perception of reality is that the entire universe is engaged in endless motion and activity: in a continual cosmic dance of energy.
Both the aesthetic aspects of this description as well as the environmental implications of an interdependent and interconnected universe stimulated me deeply. Becoming fascinated by particle physics and the structures of the microcosmos, I developed a painting style and technique that uses points and dabs of color combined with calligraphic lines as a visual metaphor for the sub-atomic universe which is the foundation for the material world that we inhabit. Over the years I developed this idea into a "pointillistic" painting technique and applied it to a variety of artistic expressions that have included abstract and hyper-realistic paintings as well as three-dimensional sculptural art works.
The "Signs and Symbols" series integrated symbolic elements as metaphors for the use of languages to understand and communicate our reality.
Where Signs Become Symbols
70 x 70 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
The "Voyager Series" are paintings which depict a multi-dimensional universe of color and shape on a two dimensional surface. These paintings were designed to be mounted in any position and each position created a new three-dimensional illusion which influences the viewer's perception of the painting.
120 x 150 cm
Acrylic on Canvas
My interest in form and shape led me to produce of series three-dimensional painted sculptures. Each painted sculpture has multiple resting or standing positions. In many ways this parallel my painting developments.
Reclining Dancer - 1996
Acrylic on Wood
25 x 28 x 57 cm
I later began applying my pointillistic painting technique to recognizable images from my surroundings with the emphasis that all form is in a state of transition and interaction with the universe. Becoming challenged by the complexity of nature that I experienced firsthand, in the early 1990's I began a series of hyperrealistic works in the Nature Paintings Series.
Beginning in the mid-1980's I initiated and developed a number of art-in-space projects. The first of these called "O.U.R.S - the Orbiting Unification Ring Satellite" was designed to put "a circle in the sky" in the year 2000 symbolizing peace, hope and unity in order to celebrate the new millennium. This project utilized an exotic inflatable material that would become rigid when exposed to sunlight after its deployment in orbit.
Orbiting Unification Ring Satellite
1 Km in diameter
The "OUR-Space Peace Sculpture" - was conceived as a technical prototype of the O.U.R.S. and was developed extensively which resulted in agreements signed with the former Soviet Union and the construction of full size model of an inflatable space sculpture by NPO Energia in 1990. The project was designed to promote and celebrate international cooperation and the peaceful use of outer space and was unfortunately postponed and eventually cancelled after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Proposed: OUR-Space Peace Sculpture
6 meters in diameter
Deployment from the Mir space station
On May 22, 1993, the Cosmic Dancer was the first of my artworks to be launched into outer space. Sent to the Russian Mir space station with the purpose to investigate the properties of sculpture in weightlessness and to assess the process and value of adding art to human habitats in orbit, the Cosmic Dancer was the first three-dimensional artwork purposely designed for and officially integrated into a human habitat beyond Earth. The artwork was never returned and may have been aboard Mir when it re-entered Earth's atmosphere in 2001.
Cosmonaut A. Polischuk with sculpture on the Mir Space Station (1993)
35 x 35 x 40 cm, 1 kilogram
In September 1995, in a cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), I realized a second art-in-space project called "Ars Ad Astra -the 1st Art Exhibition in Earth Orbit" which consisted of a collection of original artworks from 20 international artists which was flown to the Mir space station as a part of ESA's EUROMIR'95 mission.
Cosmonaut Thomas Reiter explaining the Ars Ad Astra project
in live transmission on ZDF Aspekte, 1995
In 1995 I initiated the SEEDS - Synergizing Earth's Evolutionary Development Spacewards project. This project is on hold until the conditions for spreading life beyond Earth have improved.
46th International Astronautical Congress, Oslo, Norway, 1995
In addition to organizing art and space events on and off Earth, I have been involved in developing and elaborating a concept called The Space Option. This concept proposes that the large scale utilization of the infinite resources of space to meet the growing needs of humanity on Earth is the most optimistic path to maintaining humanity's future well being.
During 2000 and 2001 I participated in a collaboration with the European Space Agency and the Maison d'Ailleurs (House of Elsewhere, Yverdon, Switzerland) in a research project about innovative technologies found in Science Fiction called ITSF.
For my work and active engagement in the astronautical field, I was elected as a Member to the International Academy of Astronautics and I helped organize workshops and symposium on the arts and cultural dimensions of space exploration and development. In addition to these, I have developed websites for three academy projects:
In 2004, I opened a personal art gallery in the historic Swiss town of Stein am Rhein.
Press Articles and Publications
Cosmic Dancer Publications