A Different Perspective – Remembering James Dean, Founder of the NASA Art Program | Science Technology

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In March 1962, NASA Administrator James Webb addressed a two-paragraph memorandum to NASA Public Affairs Director Hiden T. Cox about the possibility of bringing in artists to highlight the agency’s achievements in a new way. In it, he wrote, “We should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the … historic events” of America’s initial steps into space.  

Shortly thereafter, NASA employee and artist James Dean was tasked with implementing NASA’s brand-new art program. Working alongside National Art Gallery Curator of Painting H. Lester Cooke, he created a framework to give artists unparalleled access to NASA missions at every step along the way, such as suit-up, launch and landing activities, and meetings with scientists and astronauts.

“It’s amazing just how good a sketch pad is at getting you into places,” Dean said in a 2008 oral history interview. “People shy away from cameras, but sketch pads, pencils, paints, you know … a lot of doors got opened that you could never open by making an official request.”

The NASA Art Program selected an initial group of eight artists – Peter Hurd, George…

Source www.nasa.gov

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