February is not just Black History Month, but also Black Futures Month – a chance to not just highlight important past figures and histories, but to creatively explore what tomorrow promises for Black people and communities. The concept of Black Futures is often intertwined with the Afrofuturism movement, which focuses on the African diaspora, science, technology, arts and advancement. To quote designer and theorist Ingrid LaFleur, the term Afrofuturism can be described as a “way of imagining possible futures through a Black cultural lens.”
A current artwork in our bus system does just that. Metro Art commissioned artist April Bey depicts an inspired and fantastical vision of Willowbrook in the latest installment of our Through the Eyes of Artists poster series. For this commission, Bey envisions Willowbrook as a transportation hub to outer space where passengers wait in bright African wax fabrics under four shining suns. The piece also features an aerial view of the Imperial Courts, a nearby public housing project built in 1944, which sits across from which sits across from the major rail station hub.
Plentiful achievements in art, culture, innovation and care have originated from within the local community and neighborhood. The artist states, “Willowbrook through my eyes is a mosaic otherworldly landscape of innovation and culture that is constantly shifting.” In this poster, Bey celebrates Willowbrook as movement into the future through a fun, sci-fi lens.
The poster is viewable in the Metro fleet from now through March 2021.
Want to learn more about April Bey’s work? Catch an online talk with April Bey and view her work on Monday, February 8, at 11:30 a.m. as part of the artist speaker series for the online exhibition HAIRTAGE: Tangled, Twisted, and Black, curated by Cypress College Adjunct Professor — and Metro E Line (Expo) artist—Nzuji De Magalhaes. The exhibition and speaker series brings together artists who approach Black hair as a locus of tension and affirmation.
About April Bey
April Bey (b. 1987, Bahamian / American) resides and works in Los Angeles as a contemporary visual artist and art educator. Her interdisciplinary work focuses on introspective observances of American, Bahamian and African American culture and the African diaspora. She earned her BFA at Ball State University and MFA from California State University, Northridge. Bey travels frequently to West Africa and is a tenured professor of Art at Glendale Community College. Her artwork is in a number permanent collections including of The California African American Museum and the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.
About Through the Eyes of Artists
In the tradition of celebrating transportation through colorful travel destination posters, Metro Art commissions a diverse range of Los Angeles artists to create original artworks for the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series. Established in 2003, the posters are displayed on board Metro trains and buses.
View other works in the poster series in our publication here.