Afrofuturist performance group to offer 3 world-building experiences April 24-26 in Lawrence

LAWRENCE – The AfroRithm Futures Group (ARFG) will be in Lawrence April 24-26, offering three public events during a residency at the University of Kansas.

Building upon this year’s KU Common Book, “Parable of the Sower,” by Octavia Butler, and connected author talk April 25 by N.K. Jemisin; the University Honors Program’s Common Cause; the Center for Community Outreach’s Into the Streets Week; and The Commons’ programming theme, Fertile Soils, Abundant Worlds, partners across KU have come together to support this program.

Lonny Brooks
Lonny Brooks

ARFG includes three artists – Lonny Brooks, Ahmed Best and Jade Fabello. The group originated when Brooks, a professor at California State University, met game designer Eli Kosminsky, then created AfroRithm from the Future.

Ahmed Best
Ahmed Best

In 2019, Brooks met Best, professor of film and actor entrepreneurship at University of Southern California School for the Dramatic Arts, who serves as the emcee for workshop facilitation.

Fabello, operations manager, brings the work of radical imagination and world-building to new audiences.

“It’s important for us to be considering ways of addressing and imagining futures that our current systems aren’t built for,” said Emily Ryan, director of The Commons. “Afrofuturist thinkers are leaders on liberation and creative flourishing. To bring this work into our communities locally, where we can consider challenges and imagine possibilities together, will be a wonderful opportunity for folks across generations.”

Gameplay happens when a deck of ARFG cards is distributed throughout the audience. Facilitators lead attendees through imagining exercises and invite the audience into suggesting possible methods and objects for the collective future. A graphic recorder documents the process, and an illustrative banner serves as a reference for the imagined world.

Each event has a central theme, and audience members are invited to participate in facilitated gameplay.

Events are as follows:

World-Building and Radical Imagination

7 p.m. April 24, Liberty Hall

Service and the Future

5 p.m. April 25, Woodruff Auditorium, Kansas Union

Butler, Jemisin, and Black Futurists

10 a.m. April 26, Hall Center for the Humanities Conference Hall

No experience or prior knowledge of Afrofuturism is required. Each event requires registration. For more information, visit the event website.

Giselle Anatol, Hall Center for the Humanities director, won a 2023 grant from the Achievement & Assessment Institute to support and expand the reach of the AfroRithms work at KU, partnering with the Lawrence Arts Center and Spencer Museum of Art to offer local artist grants to those who create artifacts for the future that result from the workshops.

“In the early 1990s, Octavia Butler penned ‘Parable of the Sower,’ which begins in the year 2024 — 30 years in the future,” Anatol said. “For many people today, looking into the future is a frightening thing. For many, it is nearly impossible; they can't envision what our world will be like in three years, far less three decades. This is a perfect moment to participate in these workshops, allowing us to bring the spirit of play and imagination and collaboration and storytelling together in a powerfully forward-thinking way."

Partners supporting this residency include The Commons at KU; the Hall Center for the Humanities; the Achievement & Assessment Institute; the Center for Public Partnerships & Research; the Kenneth Spencer Lecture Fund; the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging; the KU Center for Community Outreach; the KU Honors Program; the Spencer Museum of Art; the Institute for Policy & Social Research Center for Compassionate and Sustainable Communities; KU Libraries; the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; the Peace and Conflict Studies Program and the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications.

Mon, 04/22/2024


Emily Ryan

Media Contacts

Emily Ryan

The Commons