The concept for this design is inspired by Midwestern agriculture and how it has shaped our nations capacity to dream big. As a form of transportation, space travel represents the height of human ingenuity. Among the cultural developments bringing us to the space age, agriculture has been especially instrumental. Modern agriculture has brought the proliferation of our food supply, the development of novel chemical compounds, and the advancement of biofuels. While space flight may not play a part in our daily routine, it serves as inspiration for us to reach further with our aspirations and it affirms our ability to succeed.

Space exploration has been deeply woven into the narrative of technological progress in post-WWII America. The space race woke the country up to the need for scientists and engineers to be at the head of the world’s innovation curve. The space program, along with other government research laboratories, purchased a large percentage of the early microprocessors, helping push the computer from being an enormous machine that was outside of the reach of all but the wealthiest of individuals, to the point where 85% of Americans own a cellphone. As a country, we overcame the issues of the 20th century with creativity and scientific innovation. Although the Space Shuttle Atlantis completed its final mission on July 21, 2011 and NASA has no firm plans to develop a replacement fleet, we must continue to cultivate the qualities that made the previous century successful.

This banner submission, by far, received the most jury attention. The decommissioning of the space shuttle was THE big news the day the jury was meeting to select the final banner images.

Maria is an Omaha based artist who spent her college years studying astronomy, physics, and math. In graduate school she joined a biophysical research team. For her research, she helped develop a novel set of neuotracing dyes by measuring and evaluating diffusion rates. Working with these dyes, as she generated beautiful images of neural pathways, her desire to come back to art overwhelmed her. Since completing her master’s degree and thesis, she has worked as a full-time artist. Her artistic expressions are primarily manifested in oil painting and relief carving.

For information or updates please visit: www.mariaairam.com or on Facebook at Maria Hansen Studio.