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Central West End art show at Projects+Gallery brings viewers to outer space

Several suits made of different fabric types, including plastic and cloth, hang over individual florescent lights.
Provided by Michael DeFilippo
Corday's 'Spacewalkers' are made of several different fabric types.

As you walk down the street, you might not realize that you’re on a giant rock hurtling through the galaxy at amazing speeds. That is to say, you’re standing in space. An show at Projects+Gallery, 4733 McPherson Ave., could help viewers confront this reality.

“Where you’re standing right now, you are not separated from outer space,” artist Christine Corday, said with a laugh. “You are absolutely positively in outer space.”

Corday wants to inspire people to consider their place in space and in the cosmos. Her show includes soft, wearable space suits and large iron sculptures that aim to make people take a closer look at the world around them. The show will be on view through late January.

Viewers are greeted at the door by an iron sculpture that weighs 10,000 lbs. It looks like the letter “U,” squished and turned on its side. The piece is part of a series in which Corday applies extreme heat and pressure to iron. Some of the pieces are small; others are large enough to fill rooms. The series draws attention to the fact that temperature and pressure are two forces that have formed every part of the cosmos.  

A lighter part of the show features space suits she calls “Spacewalkers” – full body suits with boots and soft helmets made of strange fabrics, plastics and other materials. The spacewalkers are metaphors for the spacesuits people wear every day.

“Whatever you’re wearing right now, that is a spacesuit,” Corday said. “That spacesuit though, be it a sweater, pair of jeans, a T-shirt, that is what you’re wearing because of the temperature and pressure in which you reside.”

While there’s a certain whimsy to Corday’s approach, the idea behind the spacewalker suits and weighty metal sculptures is relevant because recent developments that have reignited public attention to space exploration. It’s a time when public discussion is turning to inventor Elon Musk’s quest for personalized spaceflight. NASA is working to send astronauts to Mars.

Corday wants the objects in her show to spur people to take responsibility for their own relationship to space and reckon with the potential hazards and habits humans might bring to inter-stellar journeys.

“If we colonize other planets are we doing that because we destroyed this one or is it because we just are technologically curious and we are advancing at a rapid pace right now?” Corday said.

Another installation of Corday’s work will return to St. Louis at the Contemporary Art Museum in 2019.

Follow Willis on Twitter: @WillisRArnold