There are Black People in the Future

Alisha B. Wormsley

Exhibition: Aug 5 – Dec 26, 2021

Alisha B. Wormsley’s There are Black People in the Future is inspired by afro-futurist artists and writers who highlight the need for Black people to claim their place. Through the inscription and utterance of the words, ‘There are Black People in the Future,’ the project addresses systemic oppression of Black communities through space and time by reassuring the presence of Black bodies. In 2017, Wormsley placed these words on a billboard in East Liberty, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s east end that has suffered from gentrification. When the billboard was removed by the city due to “objections to content”, community members protested. In response to this community support, Wormsley launched an artwork-in-residence initiative in collaboration with the Office of Public Art (OPA) in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Through the residency, Wormsley created a precedent for listening to members of the community and exploring how artists and residents can promote positive change in social and civic spaces. Since then, the billboard has been replicated in Detroit, Charlotte, New York City, Kansas City, Houston, and London with variations of social activism. The text, which Wormsley encourages others to use freely, has since been used in protest, critical art theory, essays, song, testimony, and collective dreaming. This work will be accompanied with social activism in the San Antonio Black community led by The Art of Four.

About the Texas Biennial

The 2021 Texas Biennial: A New Landscape, A Possible Horizon, is a geographically-led, independent survey of contemporary art in Texas. For the seventh iteration of the Texas Biennial, the project is distributed across five Texas museums, featuring exhibitions, programs, and works of public art in San Antonio and Houston from September 1, 2021, through January 31, 2022. For the first time, the Biennial features artists whom the organizers have termed “Texpats.” “Texpats” refers to Texas natives and artists working in any part of the world whose work takes Texas or its history as its subject matter. The fifty-one artists featured in the 2021 Texas Biennial range from emerging artists and collectives to well-established and internationally celebrated artists working in sculpture, film and experimental video, photo-based media, installation, sound, painting, printmaking, music and performance, social practice, and public art. Principal themes examined in the Biennial include the mutable histories contained within objects and people, activism and issues of racial and social justice, and narratives unique to the history and land of Texas.


Alisha B. Wormsley

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Alisha B. Wormsley is an interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer. Wormsley views her art as a rebellion. In the same way being a Black womxn in America is an act of rebellion. Her work contributes to the imagining of the future of arts, science, and technology through the black womxn lens, challenging contemporary views of modern American life through whichever medium she feels is the best form of expression, creating an object, a sculpture, a billboard, performance, or film. The work is a bridge for social engagement, activism, redistribute wealth, science fiction, public art and film and media to reveal lesser-known histories and fantasize about alternative futures. Wormsley’s work has received a number of awards and grants to support programs namely the Children of NAN archive, There Are Black People In The Future and most recently Sibyls Shrine. Her work has exhibited globally. Over the last few years, Wormsley has designed several public art initiatives including Streaming Space, a 24-foot pyramid with video and sound installed in Pittsburgh’s downtown Market Square, and AWxAW, a multimedia interactive installation and film commission at the Andy Warhol Museum. Wormsley created a public program out of her work, There Are Black People In the Future, which gives mini-grants to open up discourse around displacement and gentrification and was also awarded a fellowship with Monument Lab and the Goethe Institute. In 2020, Wormsley launched an art residency for Black creative mothers called Sibyls Shrine, which has received two years of support from the Heinz Endowments. Wormsley has an MFA in Film and Video from Bard College and currently is a Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University to research and create work rooted in matriarchal leadership and mysticism in the African-American community.

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