Amritha Warrier is the only Indian among about 50 artists whose works have been projected into space
Amritha R Warrier, glued to cartoons on television in her home in Bengaluru as a 10-year-old, had no idea she would one day do what none of her countrymen realized. Forget about working towards a goal, what if you achieved something you never dreamed of?
Now, 22 years later, Warrier is the only Indian among the 50 artists who sent her designs to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 8, which now hover miles above our heads.
An engineer-turned-artist, Warrier always felt disconnected from the corporate world and eventually quit her high-paying job at a top IT company in India to pursue her dreams. With a master’s degree in animation film design from the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Warrier landed a job, but found no satisfaction there either. Soon, in June 2019, she started freelancing and projects started slowly approaching her in early 2020.
As fate would have it, the Covid-19 pandemic has hit all professions and Warrier has suffered as well. “It was a tough time,” she says, adding that this is when the whole NFT and crypto boom started.
She started making animations in the form of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), although she was a little apprehensive about space. While others produce around 60 NFTs per year, Warrier takes three months to create one. “I am sure of my talent. This is where I can express my thoughts and emotions,” she says.
It was late last year, November 2021, when Jaen, an artist from France, introduced Warrier to The Big Dream – a global artwork by a collective of artists (DreaMe) from around the world . They aim to empower everyone’s imaginative side and empower everyone to turn their ideas, stories, memories and dreams into art, says Sharonna Karni Cohen, co-creator of DreaMe.
The team had collected about 50,000 dreams from all over the world – from children to the elderly – and wanted to turn 500 of them into art. That is 10 pieces each for the 50 artists (of which more than 60% are women) who work there.
Warrier, known as the artist “Vanilla Punk”, is part of the team, which is made up of diverse backgrounds and techniques, ranging from clay to collage, 3D to illustration. “Vanilla means boring, punk means rebel; Well, I could be a mix of both, or neither,” she says of her unusual artist name.
The big dream
“The Big Dream was born in 2017, in collaboration with the Indian Embassy in Israel. I was introduced to Dr. Anju Kumar and we had an immediate connection. I presented to him the idea of The Big Dream, a work of art envisioning the future of the Middle East, and my personal dream that I could travel by train directly from Israel to India, which implies that we we will have peace with all the countries on the way. We collected thousands of dreams and then commissioned a local artist in Tel Aviv. Then we scanned the artwork and cut it into 1,500 yoga mats,” explains Karni Cohen.
She continues: “It was a very moving event. Many dreams were related to more rain and the day of the riddle it rained, June 21, when it rarely rains even in May in Tel Aviv, let alone in June. The power of bringing dreamers together for a collective vision in that moment became a clear mission for me that really made sense.
The 500 works of art that were created were exhibited in several locations – Leopold Museum, Vienna; Chengdu, China; Mount Manaslu, Nepal; Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania; the Old Royal Naval College, London; Fed Square in Melbourne; Times Square, New York and many more.
At Fed Square, Australia
At Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
The next location is the International Space Station – the unveiling should have taken place on April 14.
“Astronaut Eytan Stibbe, the second Israeli in space and our partner, alongside the Ramon Foundation and Axiom, is the one unveiling the artwork,” explains Karni Cohen. Axiom is the first private mission to the ISS. Stibbe will project the final piece and the heatmap connecting all dreams to the world through the Rakia Mission Control Center in Tel Aviv.
Rakia Mission Control Center in Tel Aviv, Israel
“In the video that will be shown on the International Space Station, you will see a combination of art and children’s drawings. Additionally, Stibbe takes a flag, with a design of some of the dreams turned into art and 100 random dreams, who has also been to the top of Mount Manaslu and Mount Kilimanjaro,” she says.
The heat map also has a nice feature. When you hover your cursor over one of the dreams on the map, it presents you with several other similar dreams from different corners of the world.
The coins were auctioned at Nifty Gateway, a niche category of the NFT Marketplace (https://niftygateway.com/collections/bigdreamopenediton), until April 14. “We made it affordable so that the maximum number of people could buy it,” says Karni Cohen.
Part of the money earned from the auction will go to the artists and a large part will be diverted to NGOs, which can work towards the realization of at least some of these 500 dreams.
As for Warrier, the responsibility does not stop there. Owner of six NFTs to date, the 32-year-old is a fan of Adventure Time, an American fantasy animated television series, and dreams of directing her own animated episodes; that is, if the funding is sufficient.
She recently took to Twitter to say that women are underrepresented as animators.
“I always wanted to leave my mark. There is no reference book here as there is with other professions. And when it comes to my future, I never leave the pitch,” she concludes.
April 14, 2022