Moving on the Wires: BSAM in the Bronx


Art by Will Focus

I am happy to announce that I will be moderating a panel Black Speculative Arts Movements conference on April 22nd at the Bronx Museum of Arts. The panel is the first in the Astro-Caribbean series.

According to the founders of BSAM, “Black Speculative Arts Movement, aka BsaM, is an annual Afrofuturism, black comics, and arts convention held at multiple colleges and universities throughout the United States. BSAM encompasses different positions or basis of inquiry: Afrofuturism, Astro Blackness, Afro-Surrealism, Ethno Gothic, Black Digital Humanities, Black (Afro-future female or African Centered) Science Fiction, The Black Fantastic, Magical Realism, and The Esoteric.

Our annual conventions, co-founded by associate professor and chair of the Humanities department at Harris-Stowe State University, Reynaldo Anderson, and founder of Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts – MECCA, Maia Crown Williams, will include vending from a vast amount of comics, art, and artisan creators and vendors, live performances, a full international film festival via MECCAcon, afrofuturism, social activism, and comic centered seminars, classes, hand on workshops, plays, and much more. Students are also welcome to submit proposals to participate as well. We also heavily encourage schools to attend in groups.”

This conference is named #BSAMfuturismo2017 and you can buy tickets here. Read below the panel description and the panelists who will be joining me!

AstroCaribbean Series: Midnight Robber Chronicles
Playin’ mas is an integral part of Caribbean carnival culture. These traditions of masquerade and costuming, influenced by ancient West African masquerade rituals and Caribbean folklore, are sites of the fantastical and offers the potential of exploring the “other.” This exploration  of the other in Caribbean carnival masquerade  has brought to the center ideas about the relation between the supernatural or divine and the physical body in spirit possession ritual; the gaining of access to ancestral, cultural and historical narratives; rediscovery of buried folk technologies and strategies of survival; and alternative possibilities of embodying self including the future self.
Utilizing the popular Trinidadian carnival character of the Midnight Robber, whose “robber talk” is reminiscent of the griot, and Nalo Hopkinson’s Caribbean cyberpunk story of the same name, whose opening song “Stolen” sets the tone of the novel with its line of “stealing the torturer’s tongue” to use for one’s own empowerment, the panel will explore how the theme of playin’ mas extends through other forms of art, like visual art and storytelling. Additionally, how do these artists use their art as forms of “stealing one’s story” to create possibilities for the future.
Fabiola JL_Head Shot

Fabiola Jean-Louis was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti on September 10th, 1978 and moved to Brooklyn, NY at a young age. While attending the High school of Fashion Industries, her passion and talent for the arts flourished. Fabiola discovered her talent for photography many years later in November 2013 while on a journey of artistic rediscovery. She began taking self-portraits as a matter of convenience, shyness, and, because she knew how to convey the stories she wanted to tell. Later, her work grew to include other subjects and costumes made out of industrial materials.

While her images have been described as “magical and mysterious”, Fabiola’s body of work is also that of visual activism as, she challenges the hegemony of society. Her love of Afro-futurism, science/ science fiction, pre and post industrial eras, elves, fairies, and black history and folklore, are also central themes in her work.

As an artist who began her photographic journey only three years ago, Fabiola has gained much attention for her ability to cohesively merge time periods through costume design and the surrealistic environments she creates, as well as, for her ability to set moods through the simple use of colors and tones.


BUTCH DIVA Founder and Designer, Tiffany Rhodes,  was born and raised in the East New York area of Brooklyn. By following in her mother’s footsteps, Tiffany enrolled in The High School of Fashion Industries in Manhattan, and went on to graduate from FIT. In 2002, while brainstorming a brand name, Tiffany created a term that described the ideal woman she wanted to design for:  a “BUTCH DIVA”.

Prior to starting her own company, Tiffany worked for design labels Sean John, Catherine Malandrino, Alice + Olivia, and Ralph Lauren. A true queen of the night, Tiffany took the NYC fashion scene by storm, spreading awareness of the brand and grasping the attention of future loyal clients by wearing her pieces to parties and creating a buzz that would define some of today’s most influential trends. BUTCH DIVA has branded an image known for bright colors, mixing prints & patterns, and customized details – producing over thousands of custom looks for hundreds of women around the world over the past decade.

BUTCH DIVA has been featured on Nicki Minaj, Dancehall Queen Patra, Lil Kim, K. Michelle, Kat Graham, WWE Divas, Jonte Moaning, and many other select indie artists and aspiring icons.


Chanel Harry lives in the Bronx, as well as a lot of other places. She loves all things horror and sci-fi since she was about five years old with Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight being one of the first movies that have made an impact on my already developing writer brain. Chanel has always loved reading and writing and has written stories since she could remember.

Chanel has written two novels so far — one about a Trinidadian (her maternal heritage) vampire called the soucouyant, called Skin Witch. She wrote it as three novellas in one. Heebie Jeebies: Tales of Terror is her second anthology book. Her next book, a sci-fi trilogy, Reverse Kingdom, is in progress as of now.


Damali Abrams is a Guyanese-American healing artist, offering Divine Feminine healing for the New Paradigm through homemade natural remedies.

She has been making herbal remedies for herself, family and friends for the past 15 years, and also studied herbal medicine. Her art has taken her to South Korea, Barbados, and Grenada. She has also traveled to Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and St. Croix. Damali has also been an educator for over a decade, teaching in afterschool programs at New York City public schools, as well as workshops at Hunter College School of Social Work; NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering; Soho House; and the Grenada National Museum.

Additionally, Damali is a visual and video performance artist. She received her BA at New York University and her MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts. She was a 2009-10 A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship recipient.  In New York City, her work has been exhibited at The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MoCADA), A.I.R. Gallery, JCAL, Rush Arts Gallery, The Point, The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and BRIC Rotunda Gallery, among others. Her work was included in the 2013 Bienal at El Museo del Barrio. Damali has presented her work or taught workshops at BMCC (Borough of Manhattan Community College), SUNY Purchase, Barbados Community College, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Hunter College School of Social Work, and Syracuse University’s 601 Tully. In 2013 she attended a dual residency with Fresh Milk in Barbados and Groundation Grenada. She was one of the 2014 artists in residence at The Center for Book Arts, and also completed an apexart International Fellowship in Seoul, South Korea. In 2015, Damali was an artist-in-residence at LMCC’s Governors Island Process Space, as well as a participant in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Study Program.

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