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A weekly series focused on Bloomington-Normal's arts community and other major events. Made possible with support from PNC Financial Services.

Celebrating Blackness and exploring practical Afro-futurism at IWU art exhibits

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A digital print from Stacey Robinson titled, "What Does Next Look Like?"

Two art exhibits at the Wakeley and Merwin Galleries on the Illinois Wesleyan University campus are celebrating the fullness of Blackness and exploring the theme of Afro-futurism.

The driving forces behind bringing this showcase of Black artists to the community are Gallery Director Carmen Lozar and Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Michelle Gibbs.

"Celebrating Blackness" features a wide variety of works, from glass to tapestry to collage in the Wakeley Gallery.

"We wanted an opportunity to really celebrate Blackness in all of its variety and forms … and were really looking for spaces to be able to explore the fullness of Black life and Black identities," said Gibbs.

Then in the Merwin Gallery is "Future Spaces in Community Places," an exhibit that explores practical Afro-futurism, where Afro-futurism imagines Black people living in the future with science fiction themes integrating Black culture and history. It's a practical idea Lozar describes as “Afro-futurism that meets the daily needs of those who partake in it.”

Featured in this room is the work of University of Illinois assistant professor of graphic design and illustrator Stacey Robinson and his collaborators, with digital collage, comic characters, and manga.

The community is invited to these exhibits that are open until Thursday, March 3. More details can be found at iwu.edu/art/galleries.

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Ariele Jones is WGLT's assistant program director and host of Morning Edition, Highway 309, and Center Stage.
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