A Dream Today: Imagined Landscapes, Liminal Spaces, Speculative Futures, and Alternate Histories in Black Literature and Music
From Martin Luther King's “I Have a Dream” and “Mountaintop” speeches; to artistic ecosystems invented on record albums such as “Electric Ladyland” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience and “Chocolate City” by Parliament; to singles like “Love City” by Sly & the Family Stone and Prince's “Erotic City”; and novels such as “The Oxherding Tale” by Charles Richard Johnson and “Mind of My Mind” by Octavia Butler—these and many other examples deal with mental constructions that act as a safe-havens from the terror inflicted upon blacks in the external world. The dream of MLK has proven especially prophetic of the porous membrane between fantasy and fact and remains a powerful slogan (and memory) in the ever-evolving landscape of civil rights.
Stacey Robinson, an Arthur Schomburg Fellow, received his Masters in Fine Art from the University at Buffalo. He is originally from Albany, NY, and graduated from Fayetteville State University with a Bachelor of Arts. Robinson's artwork speculates futures where black people are free from colonial influences. His recent exhibition “Binary ConScience” explores ideas of W. E. B. Du Bois’s “double consciousness” as a black cultural adaptation and a means of colonial survival. Along with John Jennings, Robinson is part of the collaborative duo “Black Kirby,” which explores Afro Speculative existence via the aesthetic of comics legend Jack Kirby. He recently art directed “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination” for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem (New York). Robinson also took part in the exhibition “Invisible Ink: Black Independent Comix” at University of Tennessee, and “Beyond the Frame: African American Comic Book Artists,” a presentation at the Flint Institute of Arts. His collected works reside at Modern Graphics in Berlin, Bucknell University, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.