(from one of the final chapters of my upcoming memoir Erika to Earth)
All I would need is one big room with big windows and a tiled or concrete floor. I’d make the center a garden, full of plants and trees in ornate pots, and paths winding among statues and fountains, under bright ceiling lights.
It could also be a sanctuary for rescued birds; it could have the birds freely flying throughout it, or, if I wanted to be more cautious about the risks of bird-human interaction, I could separate them in a caged-off center.
Around that garden would be a wall that came up to about head height, made entirely of cube-shaped, dollhouse-sized rooms.
The garden would be the courtyard of the starbase.
Visitors could imagine themselves as the largest aliens in a space station of immense species diversity, where all the vastly different creatures lived in apartments looking out on a splendid floral and avian view.
Some of the alien rooms I would make myself, but I would also put out a call for contributions from other artists.
“Create a cube! Fill it with crafted artifacts and sculpted creatures from your own imagination. Turn your old dolls and action figures into aliens; turn garage-sale knickknacks into their furniture and tools.
“Make as many cubes as you want, make them with doors and stairs leading into each other if you want, so that the creatures in each one can visit their neighbors.
“All I ask is that all units must be contained inside cubes of the same size, and that one side must be open to look out on the courtyard.”
On the opposite side, maybe I’d ask them to put an outer door and window, looking out on the human-sized corridor around the outside of the room, where visitors could get their first glimpse of the inside of each alien home.
I’d ask each artist to write a story about the creatures and objects inside, and print and frame it, to affix onto the back, on or beside the door– an enormous treasure trove of imagination, exploring all the possibilities of life and culture in a room-sized combination of garden, aviary, anthology, and art museum.