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Traveling the Spaceways

Sun Ra, the Astro Black and other Solar Myths

Sun Ra (1914–93)—self-proclaimed visionary extraterrestrial of the “Angel Race,” prophetic jazz band leader and composer, and lyrical proponent of Afro-futurism—was one of the most influential figures of twentieth-century music. Though many of his fans are familiar with the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of Sun Ra’s work, most remain blissfully unaware of how artists have continued to explore time and (outer) space through the invention and composition of his legacy. 
The remarkable illustrations and essays of Traveling the Spaceways confront the visual manifestation of Sun Ra’s philosophy and demonstrate how graphics and design were essential to his message of self-determination. The influence of Sun Ra’s openness to new technologies and experimentation, his sense of personal identity as a construct rather than a given, and his playful attitude towards history and mythmaking are all evidenced by the remarkable writers and artists who have contributed to this volume, including Pedro Bell, My Barbarian, Dave Muller, and Charlemagne Palestine. A refreshing reconsideration of the impact of Sun Ra’s life on American history and visual culture, Traveling the Spaceways is an unforgettable look at the Ra persona in the context of contemporary art.

91 pages | 70 color plates | 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 | © 2010

Art: Art--General Studies

Black Studies

Music: General Music

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Table of Contents

by John Corbett, Anthony Elms and Terri Kapsalis

Some Ra
by Cheryl Lynn Bruce

The Early Arkestra: In the Clubs and on Film
by Robert L. Campbell

Sun Ra’s Chicago Music: El Is a Sound of Joy
by Kevin Whitehead

Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Planet [Chicago Talk Remix]
by Graham Lock

Obscure Past, Bright Future: Saturn Records in Silhouette
by John Corbett

El Saturn Records and Black Designers in Chicago
by Victor Margolin

The Spiritual Musician
by Phil T. Cohran

The Legend of Sun Man Continues
by Kerry James Marshall

Sun Ra: From Negro to Black
by Calvin Forbes

by Terri Kapsalis

On a Clear Day I Wanna Do It a Different Way
by Anthony Elms

Radical Utopia
by Malik Gaines

Sun RaFounding Father of "Psychic Secession"
by Karl Erickson

Remembering the Revolution?
By Glenn Ligon


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