AFROFANTASTIC:  Black Imagination and Agency in the American Experience

January 14-April 2, 2017
WINTER PARK, FL (November 17, 2016)- The Cornell Fine Arts Museum is excited to announce the opening of AfroFantastic: Black Imagination and Agency in the American Experience. "We are proud to present this exhibition not only because it explores a timely topic--the intersection between black identity, experience, and imagination--but also because it reflects the voices of Rollins faculty and students in collaboration with our museum," shares Ena Heller, Bruce A. Beal Director. 
Curated by Rollins students under the direction of Julian Chambliss, Ph.D., AfroFantastic analyzes the complex sociopolitical forces linked to the black imagination in the American experience from the nineteenth century to present day. Researching significant historical works of minority imagination and the critique inherent to their creation, student curators examine how concerns about the African-American experience has shaped imagined and real circumstances. "I think this show is an opportunity to explore the idea of the black imaginary at a time when question of race and identity are being redefined in the public sphere. The idea of examining how African-American thought offers a challenge that inspires new ways of thinking is important," states Chambliss. From early efforts such as Martin Delany's Blake; or Huts of America (1859) and Sutton E. Griggs' Imperium in Imperio (1899) to Sun Ra's fantastic musical revolution in the 1970s, future-oriented narratives have provided powerful markers of societal transformation. Beyond fantastic escapism, black engagement with future visions challenges societal expectations and creates a space to reshape the meaning of the American experience.

Dr. Chambliss is Chair and Professor of History with the Department of History at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. His teaching and research focus on urban history and culture in the United States. Chambliss also serves as Coordinator of the Africa and African-American Studies Program at Rollins, and Program Co-Chair, 2017 Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH) National Meeting. AfroFantastic relates directly to Chambliss's scholarship. "I study the real and imagined city. In this framework, I'm concerned with how perceptions shaped by culture provoke action and reaction. The idea of the imaginary landscape as a space of contestation, negotiation, and reconciliation is a defining concern. Weaving together these pieces of the black imaginary offers a chance for my students and the public to consider how the African-American struggle to achieve equity has continually intersected with a broader narrative of societal evolution."

Related Programming

Monday, January 23, 4:30 pm | Members' Private Toast with Curators
Monday, January 23, 5:30-7:30 pm | Public Celebration of new exhibitions
Tuesday, January 24, 12:30 pm | Artist's Talk, Branding the AfroFuture, with artist Stacey Robinson, whose work is represented in the exhibition
Friday, January 27, 11 am |Exhibition tour and talk, AfroFantastic: Imagination and Agency in the American Experience, with Julian Chambliss, Ph.D.


Set on the Rollins College campus overlooking beautiful Lake Virginia, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum is the only teaching museum in the greater Orlando area. Its broad scope holdings of more than 5,000 objects range from antiquity through contemporary and include the only European Old Masters collection in the Orlando area, a sizable American art collection, and the forward-looking Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art. The Alfond Collection is shown both on at the museum and at the Alfond Inn a few blocks from campus, a visionary philanthropic boutique hotel whose proceeds help fund student scholarships.  For additional information, call 407.646.2526 or visit "Like" CFAM on Facebook and follow on  Instagram@cfamrollins  as well as  Twitter@cfamrollins.

Founded in 1885, Rollins College is Florida's oldest recognized college. Located in Winter Park, near Orlando, Rollins is consistently ranked as one of the top regional universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to full-time undergraduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences and the College of Professional Studies, Rollins offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs for working adults through its evening program at the Hamilton Holt School and graduate business degree programs through its Crummer Graduate School of Business, which has been ranked a top MBA program by Forbes and Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Rollins serves approximately 3,200 degree-seeking students annually. For more information, visit "Like" Rollins on  Facebook and follow on  Twitter@RollinsCollege.

Museum Location
Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College 
1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789-4499

Museum Hours
Tuesday-Friday: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 
Saturday-Sunday: noon-5 p.m.
Closed Mondays, major holidays, and during installation periods

CFAM Public Tours
Free staff-led tours on Saturdays at 1 p.m.
Private tours for groups of 10 or more email

Museum Admission
FREE ADMISSION courtesy of Dale Montgomery '60

Alfond Inn Location
The Alfond Inn at Rollins College
300 East New England Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789
Alfond Inn Art Tours
Free staff-led tours on Sundays at 1 p.m.
1st Wednesday of the month at 5:30 p.m.
Audio guide available at:

Sandy Todd