For our Spring 2021 episode of The Chorus, Brittney and Rasheena invited guests to discuss a segment of the short film Cosmic Slop: Space Traders. Set designer and multimedia educator August Oaks created an art installation and scholar and multi-media artist Meshell Sturgis created graphic art stories in conversation with the film. In all, the hosts and guests engaged with installation art, a short story, a comic book, and digital art as alternative responses to academic discourse.
Cosmic Slop: Space Traders allowed The Chorus guests and hosts to discuss science fiction as a vehicle to explore Blackness and alternative realities. Some of those alternative realities included imagining an otherwise for our existence, futuristic safe-havens, and ways of being that examine and push against colorism, racism, inferiority, and other ongoing systemic failures. Through our own explorations of themes in the film, we hoped to exemplify the different ways of knowing and being that shape how we engage with the content.
After engaging in conversation, we brainstormed about ways educators could make rubrics that look for student learning and best approaches for assessment in alternative responses to the short film. We hope through our displaying of varying entry points into the film that instructors could see how diversity of learning and recalling knowledge can still be assessed in an academic setting.
About Our Guests
Meshell Sturgis has a BA in English and Creative Writing from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a MA in Cultural Studies from the University of Washington at Bothell. Currently a Ph.D. Candidate and Instructor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington in Seattle, the title of her dissertation is “The Political Aesthetics of Black Girl Magic: Self-Representation in Alternative Media” where she looks at representations of difference in comic books, artists books, and in the digital realm. You can find her work in Lateral, QED, and Race and Media: Critical Approaches (2020).
August Oaks is a multimedia educator and set designer based in Portland, OR. More on his work soon.