The New Children’s Museum Plans Exhibit Focused on the Life and Work of Octavia E. Butler
SAN DIEGO – In 2024, The New Children’s Museum will open the first of its kind long-term youth focused exhibit on the life and work of American science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006). The exhibit entitled Octavia E. Butler: Seeding Futures begins planning this summer through educational programming and a multi-day community workshop.
The Octavia E. Butler: Seeding Futures exhibit will be a room-sized installation that imaginatively embodies Butler’s story through a speculative rendering that explores Butler’s childhood inspirations and influences. While interacting with the exhibit, youth and multi-generational audiences will be able to engage in worldmaking to imagine fantastical ways to adapt to and shape change in the future.
“It is our hope that Seeding Futures will be the foundation of future projects amplifying the life and legacy of Octavia E. Butler, increasing her ability to impact future generations, particularly BIPOC children,” said Gabrielle Wyrick, Chief Curator and Director of Audience Engagement at The New Children’s Museum. “With youth as the central audience, the goal of this exhibit is to collaborate with diverse creatives who, like Butler, can help us tell stories of alternative futures that are more fair, just and hopeful.”
The contents of the exhibit will be informed in three ways: 1. Through the examination of assembled research focused on Butler’s childhood writings and drawings inspired by the Octavia E. Butler Archive at The Huntington Library; 2. Three Earth(s)eed Fellows (named after the community in Butler’s Parables book series) selected to take part in the exhibit’s creative design process; and 3. A multi-day community workshop involving 25 applicant-based participants, prioritizing BIPOC youth aged 12-25 years living in San Diego.
Over the course of two days, August 19-20, participants of the Seed-to-Tree workshop will explore a rough prototype of the Seeding Futures exhibit. The workshop introduces Butler, her life, interests, and motivations, and engages in presentations given by scholars on the topics of Butler’s work, science fiction, climate change, and social change. Participant feedback from the workshop will be gathered and utilized to help bring the Seeding Futures exhibit to fruition in 2024. Applications are now being accepted (click here) and accepted applicants will be notified by July 28.
Throughout the exhibit’s planning process and implementation of the community workshop, The New Children’s Museum is collaborating with various field experts including Ayana Jamieson, PhD, founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network and assistant professor of the Ethnic and Women’s Studies at California State Polytechnic University at Pomona. Jamieson is an experienced youth arts educator, mythologist and depth psychologist.
“The Octavia E. Butler: Seeding Futures project at The New Children’s Museum arrives at precisely the right moment as we’ve experienced the impacts of a global pandemic, ongoing climate disaster, multiple backlashes against inclusivity and diversity, and other challenges,” said Jamieson, who has been the primary advisor on the exhibition plan and design.
“Published in 1993, Butler’s Parable of the Sower begins in the year 2024 through the eyes and words of the main protagonist, a 15-year-old Black girl named Lauren Oya Olamina. Like the exhibit, we see Olamina coming of age and writing herself into our present realities of the world. Through the workshop and exhibit, we want to create an environment where a girl like young Octavia could thrive. We all want the exhibit to reflect Butler’s strong desire to improve the lives of marginalized young people and provide examples of BIPOC youth becoming shapers of change inspired by her life and work,” added Jamieson.
This project has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
About The New Children's Museum
The New Children’s Museum’s mission is to spark creativity, exploration and a sense of belonging through interactive art experiences. Located downtown, the Museum collaborates with contemporary artists to design and create art installations and educational programs for children. The Museum brings families together in a rich educational environment that fosters creativity — blending the best elements of children’s museums, contemporary art museums and community resources. In 2023, the Museum is celebrating 40 years serving San Diego and 15 years as The New Children’s Museum in its downtown location. To learn more, visit thinkplaycreate.org or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.