DULUTH — Kelly Schamberger isn't yet sure how it will feel to look up into the night sky and know that her most prized painting is out there orbiting the earth.
"Every time I look at the moon, I'm going to be thinking about that," she said.
Schamberger is among 100 or so artists who will have an etching of her artwork enclosed in a time capsule and sent to the moon during a SpaceX mission later this year, the Art Renewal Center announced this week. The online museum that is focused on contemporary realism has hosted its international competition for the past 16 years — this year receiving more than 5,400 entries from 75 countries for the contest that dangled the opportunity for moon inclusion to its winners and honorable mentions.
Schamberger said she has forgone the ARC competition in the past because of the entry fee and and her belief that she didn't stand a chance. But that otherworldly aspect called.
"I've always loved space, I've always loved the stars," said Schamberger, a native of Bloomington who moved to Duluth to attend the Great Lakes Academy of Fine Art. "I have this painting that is really special to me. It encompasses everything I am and my whole heart as an artist."
"We'll throw this out in to the universe and see what happens," she recalled thinking.
An image of Schamberger's "Once Upon a Childhood" — an oil painting of a model ship sitting on waves of tissue paper with the glow of lightning bugs in the distance — will be included in the Polaris Collection of the Lunar Codex time capsule and sent to the moon in the fall. It will be laser-etched on nickel microfiche and/or digitized on terabyte memory cards, according to the Art Renewal Center.
The Lunar Codex is a set of three time capsules that, in addition to visual arts, includes stories, poetry, music and film — works by 7,000 creatives. The collection will be sent to the Lunar South Pole and its launch and landing will be livestreamed.
Schamberger's painting was created in memory of William Rager, her supportive albeit secretive uncle who died in 2020 after battling kidney disease. She recalled the model ships he had crafted and displayed in his Indiana farmhouse — then created art from his art.
"I wanted it to be about that memory of him and childhood," she said.
Artists have been shooting for the moon since at least the late 1960s. Forrest Myers, a sculptor living in New York City, told the New York Times in 1969 that he had sent along etchings of his own work and that of five friends — including Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg — on a ceramic wafer that was sneakily attached by an anonymous engineer to the leg of Lunar Module Intrepid during the Apollo 12 mission.
Back on earth, Schamberger's painting will also be the muse for a designer during Fashion Week San Diego. The clothing will be modeled in a fashion show at Sotheby's in New York City in July — marking the end of an exhibition of winning artwork that will be on display July 14-22 at the auction house.