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A Black Speculative Vision of Freedom

On View:
Friday, January 22, 2021 — Sunday, April 25, 2021

Curated By:
Julian C. Chambliss, Ph.D.


Since the debut of Marvel’s Black Panther (2018), the focus on Afrofuturism in the United States has skyrocketed. Mark Dery defined the term in 1994, in the context of attempting to understand why African Americans did not engage with science fiction. Dery’s assertion that Black people have “other stories to tell about culture, technology, and things to come” can be seen in the vibrant visual culture linked to black speculative art. As both a philosophy and an aesthetic, Afrofuturism embraces utopic spaces where equality can be valued and realized. According to Reynaldo Anderson, founder of Black Speculative Arts Movement, this aesthetic practice integrates Afrodiasporic and African metaphysics with science or technology and seeks to interpret, engage, design, or alter reality for the re-imagination of the past, the contested present, and act as a catalyst for the future. Transfiguration spotlights how visual narrative at the heart of Afrofuturist practice is part of a longer Black speculative tradition. Black speculative thought, with significant roots in nineteenth-century literature, works against anti-Blackness and imagines a space devoid of colonial frameworks and systemic racism. Transfiguration takes up Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s observation that Black visions of freedom strive for a better future. The artists featured in this exhibition engage with the theme central to Dr. King’s legacy, offering visions of freedom across genre and circumstance.

The featured artists include Ho Che Anderson, Tim Fielder, Krista Franklin, Nettrice Gaskins, Black Kirby (John Jennings and Stacey Robinson), and Intergalactic Soul (Marcus Kiser and Jason Woodberry).

Transfiguration is curated by Julian Chambliss, Ph.D., Professor of English, Michigan State University. The exhibition is part of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Exhibition Series, which addresses issues of race, diversity, social justice, civil rights, and humanity to serve as a catalyst for dialogue and to enrich our community with new perspectives. To learn more about FIU’s Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration please click here

This exhibition is sponsored by Florida International University’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts, Honors College, College of Law, and Office of Social Justice & Inclusion. We are grateful to members of the Frost Art Museum for their support of this exhibition. The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU receives ongoing support from the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida.

Caption: Black Kirby, Future Perfekt 2 – Cloud, 2013, Digital archival print on paper, 18 x 24 inches, Courtesy of the artist 

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