Earthseed: Afrofuturistic Visions
“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”-George Washington Carver, scientist
This exhibit was inspired by the concept of Afrofuturism and its presence at the University of Michigan.“Afrofuturism is an intersection of imagination, technology, the future, and liberation. “I generally define Afrofuturism as a way of imagining possible futures through a black cultural lens,” says Ingrid LaFleur, an art curator, and Afrofuturist.― Ytasha L. Womack, Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture 2013Reflected in the life and works of such figures as Octavia Butler, Sojourner Truth, Sun Ra, and Janelle Monáe, Afrofuturism was coined by Mark Dery in 1993 but birthed in the minds of enslaved Africans who prayed for their lives and the lives of their descendants along the horrific Middle Passage. Taylor Crumpton “Afrofuturism Has Always Looked Forward” Architectural Digest 8.24.2020It envisions bold, brave possibilities and describes a far-ranging genre combining science fiction, fantasy, and history to imagine a liberated future from a Black perspective.
The title is taken from the Earthseed series of books by Octavia Butler, a science fiction writer and recipient of Hugo and Nebula awards whose daring prose has resulted in many regarding her as the mother of Afrofuturism. Influenced by the writing of Toni Morrison and Samuel Delany, Butler’s works such as Kindred and the Patternist and Xenogenesis series spoke to themes such as Black injustice, climate change, time travel, and hierarchical systems in illuminating and innovative ways.
The art displayed in the exhibit blossomed from the imaginations of our students. Over the summer of 2022, upon emerging from a pandemic that shook our planet to its core, staff from the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies engaged in a number of sessions where students of African descent created vision boards to express their goals and dreams for the future. They wished to proudly display the gifts they brought to the university community as they prepared for the upcoming school year. In the face of all they had endured over the past few years, they stood ready to proclaim in the words of author, social activist, philosopher, and feminist Grace Lee Boggs:“Another world is necessary. Another world is possible. Another world is happening.”
"The new dawn blooms as we free it / For there is always light, / if only we’re brave enough to see it / If only we’re brave enough to be it." Amanda Gorman
Curators: Elizabeth James and Danielle Williams
Curatorial Assistance: Chanelle Davis, Shivangi Puthiyedath, Sadaf Inamdar
Design: Helen Garbarino
Narrators: Elizabeth James and Sloane Campbell
Visual and Audio Tour Experience
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