Red Spring Part I: Ancestral Memory

Out of the ‘cyclical chaos’ impacting Black lives, Black art, Black futures comes clarity, renewed strength and vision. Red Spring explores the circular nature of systemic racism and the public policies—public safety, health, and wealth—that adversely impact Black and indigenous communities.

Ellegua Quatrefoil (2020) by Gerardo CastroNew York Live Arts

In our first online exhibition, Curating the End of the World, we spoke out about the “cyclical chaos” surrounding Black lives, Black art, Black futures. But out of chaos, comes clarity, renewed strength and vision. Red Spring explores the circular nature of systemic racism and the public policies—public safety, health, and wealth—that adversely impacts Black, African, and Indigenous communities and became more visible in the wake of the social unrest following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others. This work is remembrance and resurrection, resistance and restored hope in a social, economic, and political landscape of uprisings and upheaval, strange fruit buried in scorched earth.

The artists and writers gathered here ask the essential questions that plague us all. What ancient and familiar new blossoms will spring up from the change the world demands now? What sacrifices and compromises will be made in the days ahead? Red Spring evokes the clarion call for dignity, equality, and justice of Claude McKay’s classic Red Summer poem, “If We Must Die.” It speaks to the temporal and systemic changes that must come to pass throughout the diaspora in order to birth futures where Black lives truly matter.

Drum Line II (2018) by Jimmy James GreeneNew York Live Arts

"I think black people are loud, because Creation began with a sound"


Swing Low (Ancestral Layers Series) (2019) by Jimmy James GreeneNew York Live Arts

If we are formed from the ash, born into the cycle of life and death, so too are we endowed with a sacred knowledge of our pasts. So too are we ever-evolving--primordial stars of a vast beyond. Through our artistic and cultural practice, through words and ritual, folklore, music, and design, we retell the ancient stories. We remember Africa, just as we honor the first people of our new lands, sharing fates and blood. This way, this work, this remembrance of things unknown… This is the sword we must pass on...or carry with us into the light.

Musicas de la Costas Pacifica, Colombiana (2020) by Jorge Eliecer Bermudez LemusNew York Live Arts

"Memphis Blues Lament" (for Rev. King) by Ekpe Abioto and the African Jazz Ensemble

Infinite (2019) by IburaNew York Live Arts

Indian Red (2020) by Weenta Girmay, University of New Orleans Press, and Kristina Kay RobinsonNew York Live Arts

A Love Letter to Toni (2019) by Tokie Rome-TaylorNew York Live Arts

"All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was"

—Toni Morrison,
New York Public Library talk, 1986

The Witness Tree (Does Not Hold Water) (2020) by Elle L. LittlefieldNew York Live Arts

The Witness Tree (Does Not Hold Water) (2020) by Elle L. LittlefieldNew York Live Arts

The Maestro's Last Dance (2011) by Ron HerdNew York Live Arts

Her passage into the alpine forest (2012) by Black Earth Ensemble and Nicole M. MitchellNew York Live Arts

Nicole M. Mitchell and the Black Earth Ensemble

Flutist, conceptualist, and composer Nicole M. Mitchell blurs the edges between philosophy and science fiction, magic and the marvelous real. Her music is modern art and Black womanist political critique of a world that often profanes the spirit and the flesh. Hailed as the greatest living flutist in jazz, Mitchell’s work centers the Afrofuturist visions of Octavia E. Butler, new technology, Black art and Black liberatory practices. Her lyrics and arrangements celebrate spirituality and convey a knowingness that it is the unseen within our natural world that will heal and see us through.

Pantheon of Akatas: Runaways (2020) by Zeal HarrisNew York Live Arts

Advice from Judea Falaise (2016) by Zeal HarrisNew York Live Arts

The Parts That Make Us Monsters (excerpt)
by Sheree Renée Thomas

We didn’t want your nail clippings or your blood. Your laughter, or tears, would do. That strange light you saw drifting where a shadow should be, was the promise mother made when she bore us. Where we lived, there would always be sun. Where we go, there wouldalways be light. That star never scarred or scared us. Even in the face of our father, thesun’s blistering gaze, we were the daughters of night.


Rocked a Room (2019) by Bryce DetroitNew York Live Arts

Credits: Story

Thank you to our Contributors

Gerardo Castro
Taylor Deed
Bryce Detroit
Ekpe Abioto and the African Jazz Ensemble
Jimmy James Greene
Zeal Harris
Ron Herd
Jorge Eliecer Bermudez Lemus
Elle L. Littlefield
Nicole M. Mitchell
Kristina Kay Robinson
Tokie Rome-Taylor
Kiini Ibura Salaam
Sheree Renée Thomas

View all Contributors and bios HERE.

Origin Story

Conceived by Reynaldo Anderson and Stacey Robinson of the Black Speculative Arts Movement and guest-curated by Sheree Renée Thomas, Danielle L. Littlefield, and Dacia Polk, this four-part exhibition brings together the voices and visions of artists from around the world. Created in the height of the Black Lives Matter movement and during an increasingly distressing international pandemic, this work responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, cyclical anti-Black violence, rising climate change that is having an immediate, real-time disastrous effect on communities of color, poor governance, trans-humanism, and an accelerating, technologically driven, predatory global economic system on the verge of collapse that intentionally exploits "undeveloped" nations for their natural resources around the world.

The visual art, music, animated shorts, graphic collages, photographs, stories, poems, and experimental explorations are representative of Afrofuturism in its many forms. From the streets to the academy, urban and rural, these works are intergenerational and intersectional, touching upon Ancestral Memory, Social and Civil Upheavals and Resistance, Afrofuturism and New Myths, Environmental Wildseeds and New BlackFutures. 

These gifted artists continue to create and innovate during times that are challenging for everyone, but impact creative artists in specific ways. Their creations show that art is the language of humanity and that we need artistic expressions that excavate, reveal, translate, and extrapolate now more than ever. These border-crossing, genre-smashing works contain worlds within worlds. We invite you to take your time to enter these spaces from any entry point you choose. Inspired by the age-old tradition of speculative fiction, these works explore the role of memory, the power of resistance in the face of great adversity, the liberatory and revolutionary power of the imagination, the strength and resilience of the Black family, the wisdom of the elders, the joyful anachronistic and brilliance of cosplay, Wakandan and lolita, the resourcefulness of futuristic fashions from recycled treasures, and the imperative to explore new worlds, within ourselves, within each other, and here on earth and beyond, never ceasing, ever growing/going forward.  

We offer our gratitude to each of these special artists for their contributions and time and for our partners, Bill T. Jones's NY LIVE ARTS, BSAM: The Black Speculative Arts Movement, particularly BSAM St. Louis, BSAM Memphis, BSAM Canada, Vescent Design, Black Pot Mojo Arts, Neighborhood Heroes, Afroflux, Afro_Futures UK, The Afrofuturist Affair, Gerardo Castro, Black Kirby, NubiaMancy, Kaos Network, Blerd City Con, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network, Zion Network, and Google Arts & Culture. For more artworks, visit and @bsamstl on Instagram.

Credits: All MediaThe visual art, music, stories, poems, videos, and essays may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed above, who have supplied the content.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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