Tag Archives: Space Queens

Space:Queens Interview with Susan Varo

Susan Varo is a local Queens visual artist who is also the author of the speculative science fiction book called The Happening. In the Fall of 1983, she began writing The Happening inspired by thoughts and visions she had about the future and a world in the midst of constant technological advancement. It wasn’t until 2017 that she finally published the book.

Always a lover of “science fiction, the universe, and mysteries,” writing this book was a way for her to tap into what she calls a “strange foresight;” “the future [had] presented itself to her.” In the interview below, Varo talks about her work as a visual artist and what inspires her art and writing of The Happening.

Finished Book Cover 2017
1) Tell the readers about yourself as an artist.
I am a visual artist and I reside in Corona, New York.  I primarily create my artwork from my home studio.  I began drawing from the age of eight and it has been my passion ever since.
2) What are some major themes that you explore in your art?
Some of the major themes I love to explore in my art are people, places, moments in time and the feelings and inspiration that I derive from all of it.  My artwork consists of portraiture, landscape and still life.
3) Which came first in your life: visual art or writing? How do the two interact with each other in your artistic practice?

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“Space:Queens”: Shervone Neckles

cd2lwabusaak8dxHello Everyone! I am back from my Barbados trip, where I learned a lot about the country, including finding out about some great visionary artists and creatives there. Speaking of visionary artists, below is my interview with Queens-based visual artist, educator, and community activist Shervone Neckles whose work looks at the intersections between science, nature, art, story and community. I hope you have enjoyed my Astro-Caribbean series for the past few weeks and although I am back, I will continue it for a week or two, including some of the artists I found out about in Barbados. Stay tuned!

“I’m fascinated with the idea that the source of one’s healing and nurturing can also be the source of one’s pain and suffering…”


1) Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

Im Shervone Neckles, an interdisciplinary artist, educator, community worker and art administrator. I am a first generation Caribbean-American raised in East Flatbush Brooklyn to Grenadian parents. My work weaves together concepts of nature and science with objects and practices rooted in Afro-Caribbean tradition.The art objects I make (book arts, printmaking, sculpture and multi-media techniques) are part of my ethnographic study on the social meaning of beauty, identity, and cultural authenticity within black womanhood.

In addition, my practice includes social experiments and curatorial projects that explores the commonalities, differences, contradictions, continuities and the many possibilities of cooperative learning and civic responsibility. I believe this exchange between community and artist is crucial to our ability to protect, preserve and make change where we live, work and practice from an informed and respectful place.

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“Space:Queens:” Queens Speculative Fiction Authors

Happy Black Speculative Fiction Month. This month I will post reviews, lists of speculative works and some of my own work. By the way, please support my Go Fund Me as I raise money to get a new laptop and continue building my writing career. Today’s post is a list of speculative fiction works by authors from Queens!

*Ama Karikari Yawson‘s Sunne’s Gift

“Sunne is a magical being or “magbee”.  God imbues Sunne with the power of the sun.  Sunne’s straight haired siblings, Earthe, Watre, and Winde have unique powers of their own.  When Sunne is teased and bullied by siblings because of Sunne’s natural, kinky, curly and spirally afro-textured hair, Sunne desperately tries to change.  Join Sunne as Sunne learns that there is beauty and power in difference.  Sunne’s Gift’s message of self-love and bullying prevention, coupled with its sci-fi imager, make it a hit for people of all ages.”


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“Space:Queens” Exploring Afrofutures in Queens


NYS Pavilion/Munchkinland in “The Wiz”

Like Dorothy, I took my home for granted…

Welcome to Women’s History Month! We just left Black History/Future Month and a thought came to me to do a link between the two with a new segment called “Space:Queens.” In this new blog segment, I will be doing writeups and interviews focused on afrofuturism within my own home borough of Queens!

Growing up in Queens, it always felt as if the borough was treated as outer space. It’s reputation as a kind of wasteland was popularized by F. Scott Fitzgerald calling it “The Valley of the Ashes” in The Great Gatsby, which Robert Moses later turned into Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Flushing Meadows Corona Park was home to the 1964 World’s Fair, whose focus was to showcase the latest and possible innovations of the day. Yet, most of the attention of the city has been focused on Manhattan and Brooklyn. I know many people who have said they didn’t like to venture out to the borough. I even wanted to move to Brooklyn once because I thought it was a central mecca for Black and Caribbean cultures.

But recently I have been exploring more and more of my borough and all the wonderful


Men in Black Unisphere scene

surprises hidden in it. There is so much unexplored within Queens, which is why I decided to set my fantasy book (“The E”) in the borough.


Because of Queens’ treatment as an outer space region of the city, the history of the World’s Fair and technological innovation, the technological transformation of the Valley of the Ashes into Flushing Meadows Corona Park, and The Unisphere and NYS Pavilion having this retro-futuristic appearance, I am not shocked that the later two have been used in science fiction and fantasy film, including Men In Black, The Wiz (“Munchkinland”) and Tony Stark’s Stark Expo.

Starting this month, I will post features about Queens-related visionaries who are helping to change the borough, the city and the world and visionary stories about Queens! First up are Yvonne Shortt and Shante Paradigm Smalls!