“All art is political.” That’s a saying from my bandmate in ONO, frontperson and visual artist travis—a seventy-four-year-old queer, Black veteran from Mississippi. “Otherwise, it’s just a pretty thing,” he explains. For Black artists like travis, and our bandleader P Michael Grego, being political isn’t an option. Being alive and Black in the United States is political in itself, and being joyous and Black in the United States is revolutionary.
Robert Pruitt’s work is alive, joyous, and often speculative, pulling from Black American life, history, science fiction, music, comic books, film, the natural world, and more. P Michael and I felt a kindred tug viewing Robert’s art, and news of the current exhibition sounded the siren of familiarity—for one, travis’ visual work appeared alongside Robert’s at a Hyde Park Art Center exhibition called Interstellar Low Ways back in 2006-2007, celebrating the life of visionary Saturnian jazz composer Sun Ra; for a second, our creations pull strands from a similar tapestry—a democratized rolodex of storytelling and artistic formats.