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Jerry Carr, a retired astronaut, and artist Pat Musick are assisting area youth in creating “Human Connections,” an art installation at Compass Music and Arts Center.

A broken heart with two full hearts descending from it is one piece in the unique, under-construction installation art project by more than 600 local students currently underway at the Compass Music and Arts Center in Brandon.

“What’s amazing about this project is the message the youngsters are creating about how we’re connected,” said Edna Sutton, co-managing partner of the arts center. “You’re getting things like, ‘It’s not what we look like, it’s our emotions that connect.’”

The theme is “Human Connections,” and it caught the attention of acclaimed environmental 3D sculpture artist Pat Musick and her husband Jerry Carr, a former astronaut and now the engineer behind his wife’s installation artwork. They’ll be visiting the center next week to talk with students in preparation for the opening on Wednesday, April 10.

“My husband and I are educators at heart,” Musick said by phone recently.

“Our focus, mainly in sculpture, is environment and human connections and human responsibility,” she said.

An astronaut and an artist might not seem like a natural match career-wise, but over time, Musick’s interest in the environment and Carr’s galactic perspective merged, and the theme of human connections is deeply tied into the work they do together.

Musick’s work is in over 100 public and private collections, many inspired by her husband’s work. Jerry Carr is a mechanical and aeronautical engineer, former United States Marine Corps officer and former NASA astronaut. He was commander of Skylab 4, the final manned visit to the Skylab Orbital Workshop, from November 1973 to February 1974.

“We’re enthusiastic about learning more about their projects and the focus of their work,” Carr said about their visit to Compass.

If you stop by, the exhibit is open from 2 to 5 p.m. daily, when it will be open but not completely staged. You can see the project developing day by day, with a proper celebration at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10 — which will be the last chance to see it.

“We’re thrilled and honored at the opportunity to do this,” Musick said. “The fact that (Compass) has reached (so many) schoolchildren is just really incredible.”

Compass Music and Arts Center presents “Human Connections” in its galleries at 333 Jones Drive in Brandon. Hours are 2 to 5 p.m. daily through April 10; call 802-247-4295 or go online to A public closing celebration will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 10.

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