FUTUREWORLDS

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FUTUREWORLDS is a performance experience merging art, theater, digital media, design, fashion, and social commentary. Created by the young people at AS220 YOUTH.

AS220 Youth is dedicated to dismantling the pipeline to prison by empowering beyond-risk and incarcerated youth through arts, culture and professional opportunities. Our mission is to raise a justice league of young leaders who use their experience, influence and creativity to build an alternative future for themselves and their communities.

 

The Birth of FUTUREWORLDS!

In 2014, AS220 Youth partnered with the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to document fashion, style, and adornment in the African American community.  This project, better known as Will To Adorn, was inspired by Zora Neal Hurston’s anthropology work in the South in the 1930’s and brings together “culture bearers” who take swag to the level of high art. 

AS220 Youth engaged dozens of young people around the Will To Adorn project. Young people talked with members of the Hip Hop community about their own personal style and interviewed Cape Verdean grandparents about secret cultural recipes. Without a doubt, the highlight was the Will To Adorn fashion show. In one night, we transformed the AS220 performance space into a cultural explosion of African American art, dance, fashion, music and food!

This initiative gave birth to FUTUREWORLDS, an afrofuturism-inspired fashion show and ball! The show includes original apparel design from AS220 Youth students and local designers, live performances, three-dimensional art and a FUTUREWORLDS dance party!

FUTUREWORLDS is where our young folk engage in “remembering our pasts, thinking about our present (our presence), and imagining our futures” through creative expression. To celebrate the diverse cultural background of our youth, their apparel designs are inspired by the African diaspora, highlighting the Black [American] and AfroLatin@ experience.  

AS220 Youth students explore throughout the year the visibility politics of classic and pop scifi and fantasy. Then they take workshops to create their own narratives in the artistic medium of their preference. The key questions are: How will our multicultural identities and experience inform our cultural aesthetics in the near, or distant future? In future worlds that tend to be imagined as static, how do we signify our cultural history and ourselves?

During weeks of brainstorming and discussion, we looked to [sub]cultures such as AfroPunk, SeaPunk, and SteamFunk (black steampunk) to see how this could be done. We also began to compile a mood board that exampled the futuristic styles of Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Sun Ra, Octavia E. Butler, OutKast, Cyrus Kabiru, Wangechi Mutu, FKA Twigs, as well as countless other trailblazers in the genre. Other images of inspiration included symbols and objects that signified our ethnic/cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, spiritual beliefs, sociopolitical quotes, etc. More recently, as we are bringing these ideas into to life, we are thrifting and recycling materials to assemble our sketches.

Through this fashion show, in addition to a special edition of our youth magazine, The Hidden Truth, we are not only taking authorship but also ownership of our future selves and what we imagine what we could represent. Often times, the souls and physical presence of black folks tend to be silenced or erased from future [western] worlds. It is here, that we take a stand to ensure our identities are represented and lead the envisioning of the future of humanity. 

 

 


AS220 Youth is dedicated to dismantling the pipeline to prison by empowering beyond-risk and incarcerated youth through arts, culture and professional opportunities. Our mission is to raise a justice league of young leaders who use their experience, influence and creativity to build an alternative future for themselves and their communities. 

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