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a drawing of decorative art object with a Black woman's picture on it, against a colorful floral background; the title of the bulletin is superimposed on the image

Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room

Alteveer, Ian, Hannah Beachler, and Sarah Lawrence, Introduction, with an essay by Michelle D. Commander and a graphic novella by John Jennings
48 pages
27 illustrations
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Seneca Village—a vibrant nineteenth-century community of predominantly Black landowners and tenants—flourished just west of The Met's current location until the city used eminent domain to seize the land in 1857, displacing its residents to make room for the construction of Central Park. The Met's latest Bulletin, Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room, imagines a different history in the form of a new type of installation that departs from traditionally Eurocentric period displays to present a fictional but resonant domestic space. Texts by Ian Alteveer, Hannah Beachler, Michelle Commander, and Sarah Lawrence honor the real, lived history of the Seneca Village residents, while also exploring works by Black creators from the eighteenth century to the present day through the empowering lens of Afrofuturism. Including images of new works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Roberto Lugo, and Cyrus Kabiru, as well as an original graphic novella by New York Times bestselling author and illustrator John Jennings, this publication foregrounds generations of Black creativity and looks forward to a resilient future.

Met Art in Publication

Room from a hotel in the Cours d'Albret, Bordeaux, Barthélemy Cabirol and his workshop, Pine, painted and carved, French, Bordeaux
Barthélemy Cabirol
ca. 1785, with later additions
Jar, Thomas W. Commeraw or, Stoneware, American
Thomas W. Commeraw
Ceremonial Palm Wine Vessel, Gourd, glass beads, cloth, cane, wood, Grassfields region
19th–20th century
Miyale Ya Blue, Cyrus Kabiru  Kenyan, Steel and found objects
Cyrus Kabiru
Digable Underground, Roberto Lugo  American, Glazed stoneware, enamel paint, and luster
Roberto Lugo
Morning Cloak, Tourmaline  American, Inkjet dye sublimation on aluminum

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View Citations

Alteveer, Ian, Hannah Beachler, Sarah E. Lawrence, Michelle D. Commander, and John Jennings. 2022. Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room ; Protocol and Response. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.