Conjured Futures: Artist's Statement

Memphis Barbree

The Sky Calls To Us

“The Sky Calls To Us” is a folio of 46, Limited Edition 30”x40”, Black & White Archival Pigment prints of The John F. Kennedy Space Center, created between September 11 and October 31, 2015. 

At Kennedy Space Center the layers of past, present and future, as well as earthly and un-earthly intermingle - in the infrastructure, machines, equipment, memorials, landscape and minds of those who work in the pursuit of space travel there. 

I grew up in the expansive glow of Kennedy Space Center, in Sarasota, Florida. Launch days were occasions to run outside and look upward for rocket trails. My father worked for a company that produced telemetry and other equipment for the space program. My father's cousin, Jay Barbree, a journalist for NBC has covered every human occupied launch from the space center. In 2015 I stopped in for a visit with Jay. He and Hugh Harris, “The Voice of NASA” during the Space Shuttle Program, offered a tour of Kennedy Space Center. This led to an opportunity to photograph the space center over the course of two months, as it transformed in preparation for Deep Space - the Moon, Mars and beyond. 

As a landscape and documentary photographer, trained in classical Black & White photography, I was captivated by the light and shadow at play on the beams of the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building – the VAB. The series begins with a low-key photograph of the Transfer Aisle of the VAB. The VAB is our gateway to space. I created this photograph to reflect that – the lights shining out of the darkness like stars from space. Other photographs in the series focus on documenting the space center in that moment in time and on the intermingling of decades, missions, earth and space. 

The folio’s title is inspired by the words of Carl Sagan posted at the space center’s visitor complex – “The Sky Calls To Us.”