I'm originally from Youngstown, NY, which is 7 miles north (yes, north) of Niagara Falls. Youngstown was (is) very rural and I'm actually quite proud to be from there. The natural wonders and powers of Niagara Falls, the beauty and progress of Toronto, Ontario, just 30 miles across Lake Ontario, and the stability of Buffalo (a true diamond in the rough) 40 miles to the South, made this a place of exploration and inspiration to the information sponge that I was and still am. Gratefully, my family was interested in everything from art to science, astronomy to geology, history to ground breaking technologies. My parents instilled in my sisters and me the fact that you cannot have science without art and vice versa. My family tree is made up of quite a collection of scientists, engineers, musicians and artists. It is from this varied and assorted collection that I was made.
Those that know me endure that I forever wrestle between the left and right sides of my brain. This leaves me very much with the feeling of being a jack of all trades, master of none. As the years drew closer to college, I had to face the fact that whatever direction I took the road certainly was not going to be a clear, straight, direct path. I knew I would not fair well in a college that focused strictly on the arts, or another that focused strictly on engineering. It would be the rare school that would have even an inkling of a notion to blend both. Many places offered a variety of school areas, but other than the fundamentals presented to most freshman, this is where the crossover stopped. After two semesters of investigating private and state colleges and universities, I found the perfect solution right in my own backyard. The University at Buffalo.
There was still one more hurdle; selecting a major. Though UB embraced the blending of art and science, the tools and technologies of the time still required a path packaged in a specific department. I can tell you now that I feel I was in college 20 years too soon. It is only now that I see colleges and universities enabling students to blend the arts and sciences farther than ever before. UB excelled in this way when I was there and is now excelling faster than I could ever have dreamed of. Yet, I shouldn't be surprised. The same tools that now enable too many hacks to feel talented are also put into the hands of those truly gifted. That being said, by 1978 (well into my sophomore year) I worked with counselors at UB to create a special major that wouldn't be so special by today's standards, but could still fall under the umbrella of a department. If only then was today, I could truly explore the blend of methods and studies to explore the worlds and things that interest me most ... and sooner than I was able to originally.
What I want to convey in both the graphics and content in my web site is a blending of all the loves I've ever had: art, history, astronomy (ancient and present), science, mythology, psychology and cultural diversity. In a nutshell, by looking at our societies throughout time, how we have perceived our roles to be in each of our lives. What influence has the night skies throughout time had on ourselves, our cultures? Little did I realize (or care to) that this ultimately leads to two questions most people ask, "Why are we here?" and "What happens to us when we die?".
Reviewing ancient art and monuments that have stood the test of time is very telling. The majority have some connection to simply gazing at and studying our night skies. Today, newer technologies enable us to view data (ancient and modern) from new angles. Artistically and scientifically I have always seen that we cannot have one perspective without the other. By blending technologies and understanding, my hope has always been to see the entire story without being one-sided. The answers to the "two questions" are ones that we each must find and resolve. Fundamentally, it requires commitment and seeing what's directly in front of us. We try to control and avoid the questions and (potential) answers, because at some core level we're afraid of the outcome. But this avoidance means missing out on so much beauty, so much depth. Once we risk taking the plunge for ourselves, the answers for each of us is quite simple and less fearsome than before. For a change, stand back and remember to see the simple beauty without worrying about stripping out and burying ourselves in all the detail. The details can become muddy and dull, but by changing our perspective and focus, and occasionally remembering to see the whole story or image, even the details become breathtaking again.
Hence, the above ramblings help to describe the images I've created on my web site. I was once asked to create a graphic that would best describe me. It wasn't until recently that by viewing research and images that I've done and collected over the years that I evolved the graphics here. It combines what was opened to me in college, later in work, and now as I have the time to dig deeper. The images summarize the Greek mythological story of the Seven Sisters (the Pleiades) and research data translated into fractal based imagery translated into the Pleiades star cluster (or the Kimah constellation in the Hebrew book of Job). Each of these is complex and fascinating in their own right. The depth and beauty to each of these can be so captivating that we fail to see what is simple and obvious. In this case, we can appreciate something complex simply by looking at the night sky with our own eyes -- much like in the days of the ancients.
Copyright © 2003 Melissa Flanagan KK7AA. All Rights Reserved.
Updated March 1, 2003