Afrofuturism: Visual Art As Time Travel with Ytasha Womack
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Ytasha L. Womack
Ytasha L. Womack is an award-winning author, filmmaker, independent scholar, dance therapist, and champion of humanity. She is a leading expert on Afrofuturism and lectures on the imagination and its applications across the world. Ytasha was honored among DesignHub’s 40 Under 40 designers for social good and innovation in 2017 and listed as a Filmmaker to Watch in The Chicago Tribune. Her book Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi and Fantasy Culture (Chicago Review Press) is the leading primer on the subject and taught in colleges and universities. Afrofuturism is also a Locus Awards Nonfiction Finalist. She was a writer-in-residence with Emerson College in Boston for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019. Her novella series A Spaceship in Bronzeville (Mouse Books) was developed through her Creative in Residence work as part of the Kickstarter Spring 2019 and slated for Summer 2019 release.
A prolific writer, her books include the time travel novels of the Rayla Universe Eartha 2198, Rayla 2212 and Rayla 2213, and Eartha 2198 (Uraeus88). The Rayla Universe series inspired the Race in Space Conference at Duke University where she was a featured artist along with keynote speaker and astronaut Mae Jemison. She’s also author of the nonfiction works Post Black (Chicago Review Press), and Beats Rhymes and Life: What We Love & Hate About Hip Hop (Random House).
Ytasha is director of the Afrofuturist dance film A Love Letter to the Ancestors From Chicago. The film was televised on WTTW Chicago and screened at the Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn; Black(s) to the Future Festival in Paris, France; the Reeltime Film Fest in Nigeria, Afrotopia in Bristol England and the Black Harvest Film Festival in Chicago among others. The film won Best Experimental Film at the Collected Voices Film Fest.
Her other films include the romantic comedy Couples Night (screenwriter) and the documentary Tupac: Before I Wake (coproducer). Her feature films Love Shorts (producer/writer), and The Engagement (director) were nominated for Best Film at the American Black Film Festival. She was nominated for Best Director for The Engagement at the festival as well. She’s currently developing the Afrofuturist feature film Bar Star City. The movie follows a bar on Chicago’s Southside that’s a haven for galactic travelers. Ytasha created and leads an Afrofuturism dance therapy program for teens with After School Matters in Chicago. She teaches an array of styles for both children and adults with the Beverly Arts Center's outreach.
Ytasha has lectured at a number of universities and cultural events. She was a featured speaker at MIT’s “Beyond the Cradle” celebration of NASA’s Apollo mission, The Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture de St. Etienne in France, Sonic Acts Festival in Amsterdam, the Deutsche Kinemathek ‘s Science in Fiction in Berlin, the WOW Festival in Liverpool, and the Acheworks Chicago Series. She’s an invited participant in the Decolonizing Mars Unconference at the Library of Congress, a keynote presenter for the Afrofuturism & Indigenous Futurism Conference at the University of North Caroline Chapel Hill, and a keynote speaker for Planet Deep South at Jackson State University. She’s also presented at Duke University, University of Chicago, Clark Atlanta University, Yale University, The New School, Chicago State University, The City Colleges of New York and others. She created and moderated the University of Chicago’s Afrofuturism Symposium, a partnership with the Oriental Institute and the Gray Center for Arts & Inquiry. The event had a special focus on Time Travel and Ancient Egyptian and Nubian art’s influence in comics and Afrofuturism.
She’s a frequent speaker and artist presenter at Comic Cons and science fiction conferences across the US. She’s a two time guest of honor at Convergence Con and a Guest of Honor at Diversicon in Minneapolis, MN.
She also cocurated the Black to the Future Afrofuturist playlist with recording artist Janelle Monae for Spotify.
Ytasha began her career as a journalist covering arts, entertainment and business. She is guest editor for the business magazine NV Magazine; a former editor-at-large for Upscale Magazine and former columnist for the Chicago Defender. Her work has appeared in Essence, VIBE, The Huffington Post and more. A Chicago native, she has a B.A in Mass Media Arts from Clark Atlanta University and studied Arts, Entertainment and Media Management at Columbia College in Chicago. She has a Masters Certificate in the study of Metaphysics and New Thought Philosophy from the Johnnie Colemon Institute.
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