The Heavens are Telling


Susan M. Riggio

30"x30" fiber


When my son, Mark, was a NASA engineer, one of his jobs was to monitor orbiting objects in space so that the space shuttle would be able to avoid colliding with them.

“You mean stuff like satellites, rocket parts, and the space station?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “But just as important are the smaller objects. The astronauts get rid of their waste in canisters which are jettisoned from the shuttle. These canisters are in orbit, too.”

My eyes opened in amazement. “You mean there are cans of… of human waste in orbit around the earth right now?”

“Yes,” he said.

Well. This sounded like a kitschy “green” quilt to me. I borrowed Beethoven’s title, “The Heavens Are Telling,” which seemed quite appropriate for the subject matter.

Along with the usual satellites, the shuttle, and rockets are numerous buttons, representing the ubiquitous canisters. I added a piece of Mylar because, at the time there was speculation about advertising in space on big sheets of Mylar. Turning to whimsy, I added the cow that jumped over the moon and the kitchen sink.

Gold quilted stars edge the work, which is a traditional Trip Around The World quilt pattern with the center block showing the planet Earth.

In 1996, the untethered satellite made the news. I added it to the mélange.