In honor of Black History Month, we’ll be releasing a Black to the Future t-shirt and poster on Monday, February 28th @ 12pm EST.
Art by Jay Katelansky.
Product Photography by Stephanie DeFeo.
"The summer of 2013 I had just started my graduate program at the University of Wisconsin Madison. I didn’t know anyone really but being Black at a PWI, Black folks find you. I had quickly met some Black Ph.D. students and one of them, after finding out I was an Art major, extended an invite to go with them to the Milwaukee Art Museum to see the current exhibition 30 Americans. 30 Americans is a dynamic exploration of contemporary American art. Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, video, and more made by African American artists since 1970.
On our way home back to Madison I was falling in and out of sleep but a sign had caught my eye that said “Black to the Future”. I honestly didn’t know if I dreamed it or if it actually existed but I thought about that sign for almost two whole years and I talked about it a lot. I didn’t drive so I didn’t even think of trying to find it.
My friend April, another Black Graduate student, one day took me on a trip where we drove the direction towards Milwaukee in hopes we would catch the sign. And there it was, A changing LED sign for a pavement company that had a handful of slogans. We waited for 20 minutes to catch the specific phrase “Black to the Future” and the moment it flashed on the screen I yelled joyfully and snapped this photo."
Jay Katelansky is an interdisciplinary artist. She is currently living and working in Oakland, California. She earned her BFA from Moore College of Art and Design and her MA and MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work questions how Black bodies, including her own, navigate space in the United States. The questions she’s been processing are: What does safe mean? How does safe feel? Is safety a place? Is it a person? Is safety an unattainable condition? Who gets to be safe? Are you safe?