Between the John Boyega and Star Wars awards discussions, Star Trek reboots, and the casting of Hidden Figures- a movie about African American female mathematicians at NASA from the 1950s through 1980s- it is clear that our cultural fascination with space is not subsiding anytime soon. Space matters. In every intersection from science fiction franchises to STEM careers, the importance of diverse images stands just as it does for television shows or college campuses.
Of course, art is culturally in tune. Afro-Futurism is becoming more of a household phrase, not one simply used by art world insiders. But of course, this is not new. Because if the renewed interest depicts anything, it is that people have been about this life.
Example 1: the illustrations in Blast Off. This book, published in 1973, beautifully tells the story of a black girl who wants to be an astronaut.
More about these images and details about the work can be found here . Can you imagine how boss this was in the 1970s? It’s still super boss now.
These illustrations were created by the husband and wife team, Leo and Diane Dillon, whose oeuvre of work is impressive and vast. They broke boundaries as African-American illustrators, wining awards including the prestigious Caldecott Award, the Hugo Award, and the Balrog Award for their commitment to science fiction and fantasy.
Giving credit where credit is due, this amazing work was spotted in Google Cultural Institute, Black History and Culture which they linked to on their homepage earlier this week. Using their pieces, I’ve started my own gallery. While I figure out more pieces to add, think about what gallery you want to create and share it!