Today, we live in a universe where astronauts can tweet us their selfies from orbit. It’s hard to believe that not long ago, artists and scientists alike had to use their imagination to envision the starry yonder. Indianapolis artist Mab Graves has often looked to the glorious space illustrations of the 1930s to 1970s for the inspiration of her fantastical dreamland, an ever-expanding universe populated by big-eyed waifs and their animal friends. Featured here on our blog, her sweet and carefree characters have developed a wild streak, where in recent works, they daringly venture into the splendid and infinite cosmos. Graves’ upcoming solo at Arch Enemy Arts in Philadelphia furthers her character’s love for adventure in imaginative new images that blend science and fiction.
“I have always had a deep passion for Science and all things 60’s Retro Space – so I knew that I wanted to paint an “Astro Girl” series one day,” Graves shares. “When I started the initial planning for my “Atomic Candy Cosmonauts”, I decided that instead of painting my own versions of classic pulp kitsch, I would do a blending of real Science with nostalgic Sci Fi elements. I brought along some of my core characters like Farrah the pink fur girl and the crabby Caturn kitties as well as a brand new cast of Waifs and Petulant Planets for this adventure.”
In the tradition of retro science-fiction magazine illustrations and film, Graves’ images take us to the space frontier of the past: ray-gun shooting explorers in old-world space suits that recall “UFO” series like “Land of the Giants” confront the perils of space ways and planetary life, complete with cool vintage-streamlined rockets and space poodles and kittens, which made one of their first appearances in 1957 film “Road to the Stars”. Although her visions are outrageous, they do have one space boot planted in reality: throughout the entire series, Graves depicts extraterrestrial life as giant, multi-colored floating protista or microscopic organisms, which is much more likely.
“I think our collective human consciousness has been evolving with our rapidly growing knowledge of Space, and basically everyone you talk to now will admit that they believe there must be some other forms of life out there,” Graves says. “So advancing that premise to the next step – what will aliens look like? For the universe of my Atomic Candy Cosmonauts instead of painting time honored little green men or iconic alien Greys, I chose to depict the Extra Terrestrial life as giant floating Protista – which here on Earth are very basic-celled, visually exquisite organisms sharing their own unique kingdom of life (not animal, plant or fungi). As much as I think it would be incredibly awesome to discover humanoid life in outer space, I feel like the most likely initial awareness of life beyond ours in our current dimension will probably be something similar – cool cellular blobs.”