Winners: Are We Alone In The Universe?
Friday, February 15, 2013
A couple weeks ago, we asked you a question: Are we alone in the universe? We challenged you to answer in the form of an illustration, and we received more than 200 entries.
We were inspired by The Where, the Why, and the How, a sort of art book that addresses science’s enduring mysteries. The book pairs artists and scientists to tackle a range of questions from “What is antimatter?” to “Why do we yawn?”
The entries to our challenge included cartoons, scientific illustrations, and abstract paintings. Julia Rothman, one of the editors of the book, and Kurt Andersen chose two winners:
Kurt’s Pick: Matt Gluf — Concord, North Carolina
Kurt fell for the simplicity and grace of Matt’s illustration. The high-school junior says he’s thought about the question many times, often while stargazing. Instead of illustrating that scene literally, “I wanted something more abstract.” Matt’s no astrophysicist, but he likes the odds of extra-terrestrial life. “Science tells us that the universe is just so big, almost infinite,” he says, “that to think that there’s nothing is just depressing.”
Julia’s Pick: Sarah Olson — Brooklyn, New York
Sarah’s painting “Abyssal Night” reminded Kurt of the dense, detailed panels of Hieronymus Bosch. Julia was struck by the strange forms that evoke both aliens and deep sea creatures. “It just seems like every time I look at it,” she says, “there’s something else that I notice.”
Runner-Up: Jackson Kelson — Midway, Utah
Both Kurt and Julia were impressed with a dozen illustrations by elementary school students from Utah. But one particularly beautiful abstract piece, by 10-year-old Jackson, stumped Kurt — “I wasn’t sure it was a kid!” Julia agrees: “If this was on an art gallery wall, I wouldn’t even think it was done by a 3rd or 4th grader.”