These speculative sketches for Solar Flare Arkestral Marching Band Uniforms play on the costume design you can see on Sun Ra and his arkestra, but also attempt to produce a unity and order so essential for secret societies when the make public demonstrations of power and venture into the public. We must understand, when we see the arkestra, that even if we don’t know who they are – they do. And they know what they are doing. Also, in consideration of the likelihood that the arkestras would be staffed by young people, there is an attempt to preserve the hard fought dignity of youth and, well, just be cool.
I am on a quest to find out who styled and dressed Sun Ra’s Arkestra in the later years. I know Sun Ra made many of the early costumes himself; but there is film footage of a man wrapping Sun Ra into some glittering fabric, and twisting a wire bracelet onto his wrist. I really want to know who that man is.
It is amazing how some forms of labor and creative production are completely overlooked by historians and hard-core fans. And very interesting how only now the theatricality of Sun Ra’s live performances is coherently understood not as simply a show, or gimmick, but as the visual component of his cosmological equations and communication systems. If anyone knows who the arkestra stylist was, will you PLEASE let me know?
This project embraces the processional as a celebratory disruption applied in the interest of creative thought and inspired actions, as well as the recognition and celebration of important lives whether that life belong to a teenager on the debate team, a community leader, the shoe shine man, the pre-school teacher, or the mayor. I gravitated towards the colors of orange (yellow) and blue (aqua) because of the way in which each colors is popularly understood across many cultures and social groups as invoking suggestive emotions rather than symbolic iconography, say like red, or white.
I read somewhere that the color orange makes folks hungry. I don’t know about this, but I do believe that people who experience color as more than just aesthetic determinants but also as sensual cues, receive orange as a stimulant for creative action. Orange invites people to dive into a task with enthusiastic abandon (so that makes sense in relation to eating). It is also considered a gateway to change and signifies exploration of the new. And orange is a silly color, I think. You can’t really wear orange when you are talking business – burnt orange maybe, but a blazing solar flare orange? Perhaps not. Orange is for reveling, playing, making, instigating. Destabilization is a good thing and a necessary thing in the production of visual art.
Now the color blue enters into more fraught territory. I don’t even have to mention the ay in which politicians and social engineers cling to the color blue and apply all manner of meaning and agendas to this universal hue. Fortunately for the color blue, it’s bigger than that.
Blue is our world reflected back to us -literally. Our entire understanding of our physical and metaphysical world is embedded in this color. His color cannot be claimed or codified any more than an indigo plant can do anything but grow.
But I do think many folks experience the color blue as a relaxing sensation. Blue invites detachment – not disengagement, but perspective. This is very important when one is trying to communicate complex or difficult ideas. Blue is a natural conduit color, it creates connections and pathways – spaceways. Blue is the color that makes two conflicting colors get along. Blue is as fundamental as a bass line, as constant the north star. Blue belongs to no one, and all. And it really likes orange. Look how they pop when the sit beside each other.