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Sept. 9, 2019

Visiting Artists-Scholars to Focus on Race, Gender and Power in Afrofuturism

The College of Arts and Letters will welcome artist-scholars John Jennings and Stacey Robinson to campus Sept. 23-27 to engage students and faculty in conversations about race, gender and power in Afrofuturism.

Thanks to the College of Arts and Letters’ Engaged Pedagogy Grant, during their four-day visit, Jennings and Robinson will host workshops, give public talks and visit classrooms to explore the intersection between art, literature and design under the moniker, Black Kirby. As Black Kirby, Jennings and Robinson re-imagine comic and science fiction imaginary to broaden our understanding of the past and the future.

"I’m looking forward to meeting with the students and having discussions about how they see the future emerging," said Robinson. "I also look forward to meeting with some of the faculty who have been long time friends."

Black Kirby functions as a rhetorical tool by appropriating comic legend Jack Kirby's bold forms and energetic ideas combined with themes centered around Afrofuturism, social justice, representation and magical realism.

More about the artists

John Jennings

Jennings is a professor of media and cultural Studies and a cooperating faculty member in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. His work centers around intersectional narratives regarding identity politics and popular media.

Jennings is co-editor of the Eisner Award-winning essay collection, “The Blacker the Ink: Constructions of Black Identity in Comics and Sequential Art and co-founder/organizer of the Schomburg Center's Black Comic Book Festival in Harlem, the MLK NorCal's Black Comix Arts Festival in San Francisco and SOL-CON: The Brown and Black Comix Expo at The Ohio State University.

Stacey Robinson

Robinson is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As a former Arthur Schomburg Fellow, he completed his Masters of Fine Art at the University at Buffalo, New York.

Robinson's art speculates futures where Black people are free from colonial influences. He directed “Unveiling Visions: The Alchemy of the Black Imagination for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. He also was part of the exhibition “Invisible Ink: Black Independent Comix at the University of Tennessee” and the “Beyond the Frame: African American Comic Book Artists” presentation at the Flint Institute of Arts.

Black Kirby Events

The following events are free and open to the public:

Tuesday, Sept. 24

  • Reception, 5:30-6:30 p.m., MSU Library Green Room
  • Public Lecture: Presenting Black Kirby Now: Collaboration, Remix and the Critical Black Imagination, 7 p.m., MSU Union Lake Huron Room

Friday, Sept. 27

  • Unveiling “Black Kirby” Reception, 12 p.m., MSU Museum

By: Kimberly Popiolek