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!
*On this blog for this month will be “Black Retrofuturism Month,” so I will be posting throughout the month afrofuturistic cultural productions from the past in a series called, “Rewind.”
*BUTCH DIVA, the Brooklyn-based fashion haus that I have featured before on my blog, has a new collaboration with Jamaican-bred artist Robin Clare. They teamed up to create a series of posters that combine Clare’s signature dancehall dancers motif and BUTCH DIVA’s most famous silhouettes. The “BD x RC graphic art collaboration” features a collection of six 16″ x 20″ colored art posters designed by Clare. These various illustrations are inspired by the 90’s pop-deco BUTCH DIVA summer 2013 collection, resulting in full page patterns created with Robin’s signature dancehall inspired gyals in motion wearing classic Butch Diva creations. The posters can be purchased on BUTCH DIVA’s online store.
Man from Tomorrow film screening on February 12: “A collaborative effort between French filmmaker Jacqueline Caux and Detroit Techno icon Jeff Mills that aims to extend the boundaries of the traditional filmic portrait through a non-narrative approach, combining aesthetically unconventional images and Mills’s unreleased original music for the soundtrack. Part of the film uses voice-over excerpts from conversations with Mills about the topics that inspire him when he composes music, such as his preoccupation with the future of mankind and his interest in both space and time travel.”
*Summer Program for Queer and Trans Youth of Color- “Get Free: A Summer Project for QT Youth of Color:” “Black Girl Dangerous presents a week-long artistic, intellectual, emotional and practical project for queer and trans* youth of color that focuses on the inner work it takes to Get Free in a world where, for us—people who experience oppression based on race and queerness or trans*ness—just surviving is a feat. Through writing, dreaming, screaming, owning up, and facing who we are, who we have been, and who we might become, we aim to start an emotional r/evolution that will reverberate throughout our lives and our communities.”
*”Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Space Cadet From A Black Feminist Future:” “Alexis Pauline Gumbs’ bio immediately initiates you into her mysteries. So it begins: “Alexis is a self-identified queer black trouble maker, love evangelist and space cadet. So, that means time and space manifest in prolific and polyphonic ways.” And it’s a good place to start naming all her galactic variety–after all, some of her projects include the Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and Mobile Homecoming, respectively. Brilliance and beauty, always unspooling. Spilling. There is no end to this love.”
Since I am doing a Caribbean focus, here is my interview with Tiffany Rhodes, designer of Butch Diva, whose first major patron model for her fashion line (and one of my favorite artists, too) was dancehall queen, Patra. Rhodes’ designs are vibrant and colorful, and look as much fun to be in as it is to look at them. They look like extensions of skin making whoever is in them moving artwork or like Diana turning into Wonder Woman. Take a look at her interview as well as the photos and promo video for her upcoming lookbook. Enjoy!
1) Growing up in Brooklyn, how did fashion in Brooklyn inspire your clothing line? What other experiences influenced your fashion?
I think growing up in Brooklyn influenced my fashion sense because the rawness of it. I was always kind of attracted to the real, raw, DIY sense of style—standing out in a crowd. This came from people in the streets. Trends start in the streets and work themselves up, even in high fashion when you see trends go from street to the runway. I was also influenced by TV, film, music–90s music, and the 80s and 90s in general. I was drawn to films where the female roles were sassy and bold, and empowering. Basically, growing up in that whole era and the fashion trends that came with it.
2) Why did you choose spandex as an important fabric in your fashion?
I was drawn to working with spandex ever since high school. It’s flexible, comfortable, and makes women feel like super heroines.
3) You also use the phrase “spandex and chaos” to describe your line.
What does it mean?
The story behind it is that a peer designer had dismissed it as “spandex and chaos.” At first I was offended because I didn’t want my work to be categorized in a box. But then, I embraced it because it really did embody what I was doing at that time in terms of specializing in spandex and using bold and colorful prints.
4) Why did you want to incorporate a sense of androgyny yet femininity
in your clothes?
Because I think that realistically that’s what today’s female is composed of. Also, what society considers as masculine tendencies, such as being in charge or having particular roles of power are things you see women doing more of these days. I wanted to represent the change in times by expressing the modern day female.
Brooklyn fashion designer Tiffany Rhodes, the “Queen of Spandex,” is raising money to open a store for her line, Butch Diva. In the description of the name of her line, she explained, “I thought ‘butch’ was an expression of androgyny, boldness, masculine aggression, and a tough edge, and ‘diva’ was still sexy, feminine, boss, and in control. So I mashed the concepts and stood confident behind ‘BUTCH DIVA’.” My favorite outfit is the comic prints one she wears here. To support, donate at her Indiegogo page
Also, to see how flexible Rhodes’ clothes are, watch the dancers below work it while in them: