Traveling through the “Sankofa Portal:”
Last week, I attended the Afrofuturism exhibition at MoCADA before it closed. This was my first time at the museum and walking in, I did not know what to expect, but afterwards I was greatly impressed. Looking at the artwork, it was easy to forget that these pieces were created by people who are still in grade school. As part of a program in which MoCADA works with schools and students to do an exhibition each year, the art pieces included paintings, collages, photography, and sculpture. Although all the works were artistically compelling, the ones that stood out to me were the Elemental visual poem and the fable stories by the elementary school students. The visual poem, which was influenced by Dogon religion and mythology, combined photography (regular and multiple exposure) with words of wisdom based on the four elements earth, water, fire and air. These are two of my favorite quotes from the poem:
Earth: Anything you lose comes back around in another form
Air: Clear glass equally mirrors wisdom and madness.
From Elemental visual poem
The second piece I enjoyed was a jungle scene with a variety of wild animals and on the walls were four short stories about an elephant, lion, tiger and frog on Saturn in the year 5072. The part that interested me about these stories is that these were typical fables about animals — how the elephant received its tusks, the tiger its stripes, the lion its roar and the frog its jump — but the set in the future on another planet. In a sense, the idea of a fable became timeless despite the change in setting.
As I discussed with Dr. Sionne Neely from Accra dot Alt, who I met at the exhibition, it is incredible that concepts about afrofuturism are being introduced into schools already and these students are learning about artists like Sun Ra and Afrika Bambaataa as well as mixing elements of art, science and technology to create innovative pieces. We both wished we had this while growing up. After the exhibition, I also picked up a couple of books (being the nerd I am) Diaspora Diaries: An Educator’s Guide to MoCADA Artists and Danny Simmon‘s I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home. Below are some more pictures I took before I left: