Collection Artwork
album cover for “Universe in Blue” by Sun Ra and His Blue Universe Arkestra
offset print on paper
Sun Ra Arkestra (born Chicago, Illinois, mid-1950s)
El Saturn Records (born Chicago, Illinois, 1957)
paper size: 14 1/8 x 26 in.
Gift of John Corbett & Terri Kapsalis

Object Label

Based on its title, one might assume that the LP Universe in Blue would be Sun Ra’s return to “roots” in the blues. Though we can hear the sonic heritage of blues forms in side A’s lament-like suite, Ra’s more abstract, futuristic work here sets out to liberate us from our earthly notions of blues, asking us to contemplate the nature of what a truly “universal” blues might be. How is it that Sun Ra’s music has the power to touch upon the universe and its lamentations? Why does music communicate universal desires and fears so well? According to his biographer, John F. Szwed, Ra believed that “music is the language of the universe,” but as far as Universe in Blue is concerned, perhaps the music’s true power lies more in Ra’s notions about freedom. To be truly free is, as Sun Ra himself tells us in Space is the Place, to recognize that “space is not only high, it’s low. It’s the bottomless pit. There is no end to it.”
—Will Scott ’18

From the exhibition: Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (April 13 – April 16, 2017)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.

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Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow
On Sun Ra Adam Tinkle talks to Ephraim Asili, Chris Corsano, Joe McPhee, Kamau Amu Patton, and Matana Roberts
Adam Tinkle on Working with the Sun Ra Archive
Pattern by Nathan Bloom ’21
Inspired by the performance Honey Baby in the exhibition Janine Antoni & Stephen Petronio: Entangle
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.