St Albans C of C AAC dancing logo
Art-Train-History Festival


NASA Artist Deborah Deschner Iazzo

      The Artistry of Space is a collection of paintings, drawings, prints and sketches on loan from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Air and Space Museum art collections. Artists such as Deborah Deschner Iazzo, Peter Hurd, Pamela Lee, Norman Rockwell, and James Wyeth have followed the work of the astronauts, engineers, and scientists who put a man on the moon and a probe on Mars.
      This article includes portions of an interview with psychologist and NASA artist Deborah Deschner Iazzo of Middlesex, Vermont.
      Artrain USA brings the Artistry of Space collection to St Albans' Railroad Days Festival. Deborah Deschner Iazzo will be aboard for most of the Artrain visit, demonstrating her work and talking with students and visitors.
      Franklin County, Vermont artists will also be featured in a major gallery exhibit and as they demonstrate aboard the Artrain. The AAC Annual Fine Art Exhibit brings additional oil and watercolor paintings, digital art, photography, and sculpture to Railroad Days. The gallery will also have special focus tables highlight artists in the Northern Vermont Arts Association and the work of young artists in the area.
Deschner with students
      Corliss Blakely, Bob Brodeur, Diana Herder Bennett, Mary Harper, Patrice Havreluk-Hemingway, and Ania Modzelewski are some of the featured AAC artists. Alice Astleford and Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard will join Deschner Iazzo to demonstrate artistic technique aboard the Artrain. Deschner Iazzo of Middlesex is showcased in both exhibits.
      From a one-woman show at the Pen and Pallet Gallery, to the NASA art team, to Ringling's international exhibit "Reaching Toward Space," to several exhibitions at the Ritter Gallery in Florida, artist Deborah Deschner Iazzo has used etchings, collages, multimedia, and pure form to create meaningful images that blend realism with symbolism.
      NASA commissioned Deschner Iazzo to cover Mission 51-L, the ill-fated flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger, for the NASA art program. She observed every step of the Challenger preparations but was not present for the launch. Her resulting Challenger artwork is a tasteful, effective series on permanent display at the NASA Art Gallery at Kennedy Space Center.
Sudden Change

      Deschner Iazzo was selected for the art team as the program moved from realism into emotionally expressive art. My works "tend to be less representational and symbolic," she said.

      Following the Teacher in Space program, the Civilians in Space program was to include journalists and artists. She made a strong bid to be the artist in space and "probably had a shot at it" because NASA prefers every astronaut to be multifunctional; her PhD in Psychology would have allowed her to go as a Mission Specialist as well as an artist.
      "I wanted to do an art project I had designed using weightless paint blobs inside different shaped cylinders," she said.
Belly of the Bird       You sound more like a modern artist rather than someone doing representational forms.
      "I always have been. There was a recognition [on NASA's part] that the collection could and should include many different styles of expression of what it means to be in space."
      She views the NASA art collection as a combination of real art and beautiful illustration.
      "It's ironic because ['Belly of the Bird'] is one of the more realistic, representational pieces of my work, and yet I feel I did it in a way that could almost trick you and that you don't know what it is."
      AAC: That's true. Because you can't see the outline of the Shuttle in this closeup view, you have to be told what the shapes are.
      Belly of the Bird, a look at the ablative tiles of the Space Shuttle Columbia, is one exhibit in the Artrain. Reentry heat created subtle patterns on these protective pieces. "If you examine it," she said, "You'll see that each tile does have its own separate code. The tiles are this wonderful blanket that wraps the Shuttle and holds it in safety. The patterns are extraordinary."

      The paintings, drawings, prints, and sketches in the exhibit capture the excitement and energy of crafting the space vehicles as well as space exploration for the Railroad Days Festival in St Albans, Vermont.
      "I had the honor and privilege to spend four days, me by myself, inside the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building). It's a huge, huge thing which I have" portrayed many times.
      AAC: The building makes its own weather.
      "That's right, it does. It's an amazing space. So I got to actually be in there with the Shuttle Columbia and did a lot of work. My work in the VAB was so formative for me because a lot of my artwork after that was about the VAB not about the Shuttle or about space itself, but the building that went into the creation of the Shuttle and of the other space vehicles."
      AAC: Do you find that happens to a lot of people? Did you start out with an idea that you wanted to be, say a belly button designer when you grew up, but because you ended up working so intensely in the VAB, that became your focus instead?
      "Yes, I think it was so moving. It's such an experience to be in the inner sanctum and very few people get to take a tour of it, let alone spend four consecutive days just being loose in the building. That kind of access was without a doubt one of the high points of my career, my life, because that building, I guess it's just like traditional cathedrals. The interior dimensions of something create the space and that space affects you psychologically and for me being in that space was an unparalleled experience."
      "Cathedrals are tall and narrow but this thing is a cube. I don't think I've ever been in a space like that and don't think I will be again. And when I went on the roof. Oh! To be up there with the vultures."
      Do you mean literal vultures?
      "Yes. Many people don't realize that Kennedy Space Center is a nature preserve. It has a huge population bald eagles and vultures and alligators. It should be a national park like the Everglades."

      The great-granddaughter of world-renowned architect, etcher, and author George T. Plowman, Deschner Iazzo studied intaglio and oil painting in Athens, Greece. She followed up that artistic training by pursuing a PhD in Psychology studying the emotional meaning of shapes. She created the Diagnostic Drawing Test. Deschner Iazzo's artistic emphasis is on experimental etchings, collages, and mixed media. She creates images related to the space program, childbirth, Russia, and mangrove trees.

ArTrain Rides the Rails of Vermont

Photo Credits: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Space Art: "Sudden Change," oil on canvas. This commemorative painting attempts to capture in an expressionistic way, the dramatic sense of sudden change during the Challenger accident. The canvas is mounted in the round with the inten of making viewers move around the piece. From left to right, the initial portion observed is tranquil. Further right the launch scene abruptly comes into view.
NASA Art Program, Kennedy Space Center, FL.

Space Art: "Resolutions," oil and silver leaf on canvas. This second 51-L (Challenger) commemorative piece was painted as a counterpart to "Sudden Change," Deborah Deschner Iazzo's first assignment painting. Completed nearly a year later, "Resolutions" addresses the healing process on both a personal and a public level. The stark, metallic gray landscape which dwarfs an empty launch pad is reminiscent of the difficult period of grief and loss. The silver leaf armband-like strip across the panels forms a division or wall which casts a long shadow over the "new" landscape. Dawn is also beginning to appear. The three panels symbolize the basic, unchanging elements of our worlds of experience and exploration: ocean, earth, and sky.
NASA Art Program, Kennedy Space Center, FL.

Space Art: "Belly of the Bird," etching print on paper. Reentry heat created the subtle patterns on the protection tiles of the Space Shuttle Columbia. Using the etching process, Deborah Deschner Iazzo echoed the tile surface with her acid-burned, metal printing plate.
Used with permission of the artist

Space Art: "VAB, Mangroves, and Roofbirds," color etching. An abstraction of elements and reccurent forms visible on and around the Vehicle Assembly Building; at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and its natural environment.
NASA Art Program, Kennedy Space Center, FL.

ArTrain Rides the Rails of Vermont

All Arts Council of Franklin County

Dick Harper, Chair
P.O. Box 1
Highgate Springs, VT 05460
email us

AAC dancing logo
Railroad Days Artrain USA AAC Exhibit AAC
History Tour Artrain FAQ Things to Do
Sponsors School News Maps