On the cover of the Sun Ra LP We Travel the Space Ways
, the natural, musical, and extra-terrestrial realms are brought together in one place. A red UFO flies across the sky, a reminder of Sun Ra’s self-proclaimed extra-terrestrial citizenship and perhaps a visual allusion to his 1974 film, Space is the Place
, in which Ra proposes to create a black nation in outer space. As the UFO flies by, baby-blue ocean waves crash into giant piano keys on the shore, sweeping the keys, musical notes, and a crash cymbal out to sea. Red hands stick out above the water, grasping musical instruments. Is this a literal reflection of Ra’s philosophy that musicians should play with their spirit and totally immerse themselves in music, with waves of water representing sound waves? Or perhaps these waves invoke the physically palpable, unstoppable, and sometimes even dangerous character of music—vividly depicted early in Space is the Place
, when Sun Ra’s piano playing somehow triggers the destruction of a night club.
—David Rivera ’20
From the exhibition: Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (April 13 – April 16, 2017)