The Blue Marbles Project logo shows one blue marble floating inside an outlined heart in red.

From Here to a Star (2010)

Shadow play with Kinder Art Night “Water Songs and Dances” (2017)


How much do I love you?
I’ll tell you no lie
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
How many times a day do I think of you?
How many roses are sprinkled with dew?
How far would I travel
To be where you are?
How far is the journey
From here to a star?
And if I ever lost you
How much would I cry?
How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
    — Music and lyrics by IRVING BERLIN

On the evening of July 29th, at the Gray Area Center for the Arts, marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols spoke of the evolving role of the scientist/advocate, as he discussed his work to document the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf. He spoke candidly and passionately of the catastrophic damage caused by the disaster, and the difficulties of holding on to hope. He discussed the value of using new tools and technologies, as he collaborates with artists who find creative ways to make information accessible and meaningful to everyday people. Near the end of the evening, all of the invitees were given one blue marble, a symbol of our Earth.

“The Blue Marble” is an affectionate nickname for an iconic photograph of Earth taken by the crew of the Apollo 17.  J. noted that scientists are not often known for speaking about love, but he spoke openly of his love for the ocean and his commitment to care for a world that his two daughters will grow to inherit. He instructed us to hold the blue marble to our heads to think about what small act we could do to help the world get just a little bit better, and then to our hearts. In closing, we were asked to share our stories about our own relationships to the ocean and pass the marble on… and to be sure to encourage the next person to do the same. Search for Blue Marbles on the internet, and you can see photos of your fellow citizens of the Earth, people of all ages from all over the world with their blue marbles.

The next morning, the Rooftop Art Committee met to put the finishing touches on the “Art Is… Illumination” Line of Inquiry and guiding questions for the coming art study for a new school year which begins in two weeks.  Around a table of good food and good company, the art team distilled a summer’s worth of exploration and discussion into a single sentence of eleven words,“How do artists use contrast & perspective to illuminate our world?” 

To mark the occasion, we took a moment to pass out the blue marbles, holding them high and proud before a beautiful Ruth Asawa tied-wire sculpture for a snapshot that we’ll forward along to Ocean Voices.  The “Art Is… Illumination” study will soon be launched into the world, along with seven blue marbles (with one for baby) — another year begun with high hopes. We recall the wise words spoken by Ruth Asawa on her visit to Rooftop in 2004.  Speaking of her many accomplishments, Ruth shared that she was happiest, “that the ideas have been spread around and now you will never know the influence of how far it will go.”

Izzy’s Blue Marble

This post was originally published on July 30, 2010 on the Art Is… Illumination website.