Fierce Planets (SAQA Global Exhibition)


Are you fascinated by space? We have arranged a collaboration with Johns Hopkins University Press to present Fierce Planets, an exhibition of art quilts inspired by the research of Johns Hopkins University Professor Dr. Sabine Stanley. The JHU Press is publishing a book about Dr. Stanley’s research in 2023 (What’s Hidden Inside Planets?).


Earth, from space, looks like a shimmering gem suspended in an inky, infinite expanse. But this serene image masks the magnificent and volatile interior forces that make life possible for an estimated 8.7 billion animal and plant species on the surface. The placid appearances of our neighboring planets similarly belie their powers—and science fiction-worthy features, including diamond rain and ice-spewing volcanoes.

Consider all the materials available to you for 2D and 3D works—fibers, metals, papers, scales, hides—and allow your imagination to drill down 4,000 miles through our built environments on to soil, sand, water, rock, and minerals to the outer (mainly liquid iron with nickel) and inner (solid iron and nickel) cores. The closer to the core, the higher the pressure, and heat—up to 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit—along with the intense convection, roiling metals, and shifting tectonic plates that come with it.Consider, too, the effects of gravity, magnetism, rotation, and seismic activity sensed by us in the forms of the Northern Lights, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes, among many other manifestations.

And that’s just on Earth. If you look up into the Milky Way, our neighboring planets have their own active forces, along with moons with frozen oceans, and rogue asteroids filled with precious gems flying around them.

Extreme heat. Extreme Cold. Extreme pressure. Ferocious winds. Toxic gasses. Wild seas. Frozen seas. Rare gems. Creatures known, and as yet unknown. And, the wonder of it all, the beauty, the anticipation of what we’ll learn next. The equipment used to discover more. What will fire your imagination?


Exhibition Schedule

This exhibition will travel until end of 2026

Louisiana State University Museum of Art, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: April 18 - July 28, 2024

Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin, Florida: June - August 2025

About the Jurors

Dr. Sabine Stanley is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences and the Space Exploration Sector of the Applied Physics Lab (APL). She directs the Magnetism and Planetary Interiors (MagPI) research group at Hopkins, which is centered on understanding planetary interior processes and evolution. This includes investigating magnetic field generation, which provides important information about the thermal history of a planet, its interior structure, and the fluid motions occurring in the core. Additional research and outreach efforts of the MagPI group include:

  • working on the Mars InSight mission, using marsquakes to study the interior of the red planet;
  • using the Iridium Constellation of Communication Satellites to track fast changes in Earth’s magnetic field;
  • investigating Saturn’s and Jupiter’s dynamos and the role of helium rain in these planets’ interiors; and
  • understanding the effects of superionic water on the dynamos of Uranus and Neptune.
  • engagement with education researchers, artists, and the public in order to create impactful, accessible science content; the HEMI/MICA Extreme Arts program pairs artists from MICA with faculty at Johns Hopkins to explore unique perspectives on extreme events (more details).

Dr. Stanley received her B.Sc. degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Toronto, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Geophysics from Harvard University. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher at MIT from 2004-2005 and a Professor at the University of Toronto from 2005-2017. She has received the William Gilbert Award of the American Geophysical Union, and a Sloan Research Fellowship, among other distinctions and honors.

J.D. Talasek, Director, Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences is the creator and moderator for the monthly salon DASER (DC Art Science Evening Rendezvous) held at the NAS, part of the LASER network. He has served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University in the Museum Studies Master’s Program, and on the Contemporary Art and Science Committee (CASC) at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He is the art advisor for Issues in Science and Technology Magazine and was the Art and Design Advisor for the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative based in Irvine, CA from 2015-2017. Talasek has served as a board member of Leonardo/ International Society for Art Science and Technology, and chaired the LASER committee that coordinates more than forty art/sci salons around the world.

Talasek has curated several exhibitions at the National Academy of Sciences including Imagining Deep Time; Visionary Anatomies (toured through the Smithsonian Institution, 2004 - 2006); Absorption + Transmission: Work by Mike and Doug Starn; and The Tao of Physics: Photographs by Arthur Tress, Cycloids: Paintings by Michael Schultheis.

Dr. Denis Wirtz, vice provost for research; Professor of Engineering Science; director of the Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PSOC); co-founder of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology; researcher and inventor; at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Wirtz is a globally-recognized and consulted expert in cell motility and nuclear dynamics in health and disease. He is known for his innovative vision and galvanizing energy. As vice provost for research at the nation’s first research university, Dr. Wirtz focuses on the current and future health of the university’s research enterprise, including institutional research compliance, research development, and cross-divisional research initiatives. He and his team support a 6,000-member research community that includes Nobel laureates, MacArthur fellows, Sloan fellows and other luminaries. He supports vital multidisciplinary, collaborative research programs, including the Bloomberg Distinguished Professorships.

With a Hoover Fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF), Dr. Wirtz earned an M.S. and PhD in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University. He was also granted a fellowship through the European Union’s Human Capital and Mobility program to conduct postdoctoral research at the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles (ESPCI) in Paris, France. He is a foreign member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine (ARMB) and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Physical Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. He is a past recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award and the Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Engineering Foundation Award.