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Black Kirby: An Afrofuturist Homecoming

The MSU Museum to Unveil Four Prints from the Artist Collaborative Black Kirby

The Michigan State University Museum is celebrating the arrival of a new collection of four prints by Black Kirby, an artistMajor Sanofa collaborative composed of artists/professors John Jennings (UC Riverside) and Stacey Robinson (University of Illinois). The unveiling will take place on Friday, September 27 at 12:00 pm (noon) in the MSU Museum’s Entry Hall.

MSU Museum Director Mark Auslander remarks, “The MSU Museum is delighted to acquire four works by the Black Kirby collective, the first acquisitions selected by Professor Julian Chambliss in his role as the new Val Berryman Curator of History. These dazzling works brilliantly excavate, sample, and remix the history of superhero comics, taking us on a breathtaking ride through African American popular culture—opening up new vistas of belonging and critique with unparalleled verve and humor. This significant accession inaugurates a long-term commitment at the Museum, collecting the art and material culture of what Dr. Chambliss terms the “Black Fantastic.”

Black Kirby’s work references the popular culture contributions of comic book artist Jack Kirby, in evolving conversation with Afrofuturism, struggles for social justice, and the politics and poetics of Hip Hop. The acquisition of these works marks the MSU Museum’s deepening commitment to collections-building in the domain of black imaginaries, under the leadership of Dr. Julian Chambliss, Val Berryman Curator of History and Professor of English.

Dr. Julian Chambliss remarks, “In many ways, John Jennings and Stacey Robinson have provided the visual look for contemporary Afrofuturism. The opportunity to purchase work produced through their collaboration as “Black Kirby” allows us to document this process. With this purchase, we make a clear statement about our commitment to document, preserve, and present vital conversations connected to the African Diaspora.”

Jennings and Robinson will be on the campus of Michigan State University September 23-27 engaging with students and faculty in conversations about race, gender, and power in Afrofuturism. This homecoming week unveiling is co-sponsored by the MSU Black Alumni Association, Inc. and the MSU Department of English.