Some of Karen’s earliest childhood memories are of times spent sewing, drawing and creating art. Around the same time that she looked up at the sky and knew she wanted to be an astronaut, she sewed her first shirt (age 8). For her, the technical aspects of sewing and art have always just made sense.
"I would sew (and create art) all day every day if I could, I love it that much," Karen says.
Nyberg grew up in the small town of Vining, Minnesota, where she was the fifth of six children. Early on, her parents taught her many practical life skills, including sewing.
"My mom and dad are both very creative people and made a lot for all of us kids" said Nyberg. "My mom taught me to sew when I was about five or six years old."
Karen took her lifelong love of creating art with her to space. While there, she captured the beauty of space through her photography. She also crafted and stitched together a toy dinosaur for her son which she made out of scraps of fabric recycled from the lining of the Russian cosmonauts' food containers.
The Astronomical Quilt Block Challenge
When Karen lived on the International Space Station, she and NASA invited crafters from around the world to join a project to stitch together a global community quilt. Karen stitched a 9” square star-themed quilt block in space and encouraged others to create their own star-themed quilt blocks on earth. No one realized how quickly the project would grow. NASA received over 2400 quilt squares from around the world. Many of the squares were accompanied by letters and personal stories of how space travel and the worldwide space program had impacted lives. A team of NASA and Johnson Space Center volunteers quilted the squares together and created 28 king sized quilts. The quilts were showcased at the 40th Anniversary International Quilt Festival in Houston. Quilt blocks from Ohio and California were put next to blocks from Australia and Japan. A New Orleans block was placed next to a block from Russia and the UK. The panels spanned the globe and the completed quilts represent a truly interconnected world.
Karen currently finds inspiration for her artwork from everyday life. Her most recent favorites are textile artworks inspired by her family. She also works on artist commissions for clients and brands.
Textile artwork of Astronaut Doug Hurley, Commander of the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour that launched on May 30, 2020. Hurley made history as being one of two astronauts to travel into space from U.S. soil since 2011.