Marta's Magic + Gene's Skills = Successful Splashdown by Marsha F. White

Marta’s Magic + Gene’s Skills = Successful Splashdown

Marsha F. White

Fairfax Station, Virginia, USA

Artist Statement

Who wouldn’t be awed by Eugene “Gene” Francis Kranz’s leadership, focus on mission, perseverance and creativity portrayed in the movie Apollo 13? In real life, the White Team Mission Control Leader wanted to sport a distant clothing item for each launch he directed, and a white vest seemed perfect. So, Marta Kranz lovingly stitched good luck magic into the white vests her Flight Director husband wore on the launch day for Gemini 4, and Apollo 7, 9, 11, 13 and 17. And, she made a different vest for each splashdown. But the vest Gene wore on Apollo 13’s launch day April 11, 1970, became iconic and it stayed on from launch until splashdown on April 17, 1970. This vest is on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

I remember watching Apollo 13 unfold on TV as a college student. I have watched the movie several times, always getting emotionally pulled into the story. I love gazing at the night sky, viewing the stars, planets, moon and the dark depths; and relished soaring through the sky earning my pilot’s license in high school. In my art quilts, I aim to simplify and try to depict the essence of something complex.


Painting, machine piecing and quilting,couching.


Cotton batiks, Tyvek, metallic netting, hand marbled fabric by Linda Cooper, sheer, metallic cord, and buttons.