LANCASTER, CA. December 20, 2018: History was made this month aboard NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) as Shana Mabari became the first artist to fly onboard during a December 11 mission.

Mabari, known in the Antelope Valley for her monumental sculpture “Astral Challenger” located at Challenger Way and Avenue L, rode with the NASA team to gather information for communicating NASA science through art. On board SOFIA, which is the largest airborne observatory, using a 2.7 meter telescope to study the infrared universe, Mabarispent the 10 hour flight observing celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets, nebulae, and the galactic center. “It was an honor and privilege to experience the elegant complexities of infrared astronomy, astrophysics, and astrochemistry with the NASA team,” says Mabari.

Mabari intends to use her observations as inspiration for an upcoming Museum of Art and History (MOAH) exhibit in 2020 that examines the light in space. “This exhibit is an important connection between the arts and science especially given the region’s deep history with aerospace and its creative innovation,” says Ronda Perez, Director of Parks, Recreation and Arts for the City of Lancaster. As an extension of Mabari’s project, the artist and MOAH will partner with publisher Griffith Moon on creating a book dedicated to the interpretations of the term “space” through words and images. This exhibit will also include the spatial installation work of Laddie John Dill and photographs by artist Jay Mark Johnson.

Throughout, Shana Mabari’s work explores the intersections of art, science and technology, and is part of the continuum of the Light and Space movement that originated in Southern California in the 1960s.  She has exhibited across the United States, and internationally. Mabari holds a patent for “Dynamic Spatial Illusions” and is a recipient of the Center for Cultural Innovation ARC grant.