The Baltimore Museum Presents: The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) with Ta-Nehisi Coates on Afrofutures

Above:Ta-Nehisi Coates. Photo: Gabriella Demczuk.

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) hosts a conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, National Book Award winner, national correspondent for The Atlantic, and author of Marvel’s The Black Panther comic book series, on Thursday, May 17 from 7 to 10pm. The program is part of The Necessity of Tomorrow(s), the BMA’s free series of creative conversations and social events featuring nationally recognized artists, writers, and thought-leaders to consider key ideas at the intersection of art, race, and social justice. The discussion with Coates and BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director Christopher Bedford will be centered on Afrofuturism and its role in today’s cultural landscape.

The event includes music curated by The Crown featuring Ancestral Duo and DJ Trillnatured, a comic book reading room organized by Atomic Books, art-making activities, light refreshments, and community conversation. Tickets will be available beginning at 6pm on May 17, and seating is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission is free. The event will be live-streamed in several locations throughout the museum.

The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) borrows its title from an essay by science fiction author Samuel Delany that argues for the role of creative speculation in making a more just future. The first event featured artist Mark Bradford in conversation with Christopher Bedford and explored how he changed the course of his life when he was 30 years old to eventually become one of the most accomplished artists of his generation. Bradford also discussed Art + Practice, the nonprofit he co-founded in South Los Angeles to supports the needs of local foster youth.

The next Necessity of Tomorrow(s) event will take place in October 2018.

The Necessity of Tomorrow(s) is generously sponsored by Suzanne F. Cohen and the Cohen Opportunity Fund.

Ta-Nehisi Coates
In his work as a National Book Award-winning writer and a National Correspondent for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates has emerged as an essential voice for our times. His award-winning writing combines reportage, historical analysis, and personal narrative to address some of America’s most complex and challenging issues pertaining to culture and identity. He addresses audiences across the country on urgent cultural topics, including discriminatory housing policies, mass incarceration, deleterious interpretations of history, and his personal experiences growing up as an African American male in the United States. Coates’s newest book, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy, is a collection of his writing from the Obama era, including never-before published essays. Since 2016, Coates has also written Marvel’s The Black Panther comic books. His 2015 book Between the World and Me was a #1 New York Times bestseller, as well as required or recommended reading at over 400 colleges and universities across the country. Structured as a letter to his teenage son, it moves from Baltimore to Howard University to New York City to Paris, addressing what it means to inhabit an African American body in today’s America. Ta-Nehisi Coates grew up in West Baltimore and attended Howard University. He currently lives in New York with his wife and son, and is a Distinguished Writer in Residence for New York University’s Carter Journalism Institute.

Christopher Bedford
Christopher Bedford is the Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director of The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) and the 10th director to lead the museum, which is renowned for its outstanding collections of 19th century, modern, and contemporary art. Recognized as an innovative and dynamic leader for building greater community engagement and creating programs of national and international impact, Bedford served as director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University prior to joining the BMA. He commissioned the U.S. Pavilion for the 2017 Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious contemporary art fair, which debuted an exhibition of new work by American artist Mark Bradford. Previously, Bedford held curatorial positions at the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University, the Department of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Department of Sculpture and Decorative Arts for the J. Paul Getty Museum. Born in Scotland and raised in the United States and the UK, Bedford has a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College, received a master’s degree in art history through the joint program at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art, and has studied in the doctoral programs in art history at the University of Southern California and the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London. Bedford is also a noted author and contributor to publications including Art in America, ArtForum, and Frieze, among others. He is currently a trustee of Art + Practice, Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance, and Maryland Citizens for the Arts.

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