KU News Release

November 13, 2012
Contact: Gina Kaufmann, Spencer Museum of Art, 785-864-0142

Museum announces talk with Wichita-based sculptor on 'Future Bus'

'Impending Future Bus'

More Information

LAWRENCE — Wichita-based sculptor Randy Regier will participate in a public discussion at the Spencer Museum at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15. In conversation with curator Kate Meyer, the artist will talk about his sculpture, “Impending Future Bus,” as well as the complex and highly sensitive questions it raises.

“Impending Future Bus” is a sculptural depiction of a futuristic 1950s-style toy bus filled with rows upon rows of African-American toy passengers and one lone Caucasian figure who rides at the back of the bus. The artist was inspired to produce the toy after listening to a National Public Radio segment on the changing racial demographics in America and the impending minority status of white Americans. The toy can also be appreciated in relation to Ray Bradbury’s 1951 short story from The Illustrated Man, “The Other Foot,” in which Mars has been colonized exclusively by black people who plan to segregate a group of white people rumored to be on their way from Earth. In the story, a man named Willie prepares to take revenge on the white minority arriving on his planet.

“[The] shoe’s on the other foot now,” Willie thinks. “We’ll see who gets laws passed against him, who gets lynched, who rides the back of streetcars, who gets segregated at shows. We’ll just wait and see.” However, upon meeting the war-worn white man begging for help with the Earth and its history in ruins below, Willie’s resentment abates and he gains compassion. Having convened a lynch mob, Willie must now change its course, and he does so by pointing out that “the white man’s as lonely as we’ve always been.”

In terms of both the reversal of historic roles and emphasis on the alienation that comes with minority status, “Impending Future Bus” picks up where “The Other Foot” left off. The fact that it is made to look like a pull toy with a rope attached leaves the questions it raises open-ended; the bus will go wherever society takes it.

The work resonates with connections to place – in particular, with connections to Kansas. As the artist notes, “‘Impending Future Bus’ was made in Kansas, where the sky is always present or imminent. I thought of that when I made the bus’ ‘vista view’ windows, reminiscent of the cross-country buses and trains of the referenced era.”

“Impending Future Bus” was selected as the KU Common Work of Art for the 2012-2013 academic year in conjunction with the 2012-2013 Common Book, a collection of essays on race titled “Notes From No Man’s Land,” by Eula Biss. The Common Book and the Common Work of Art, chosen for their ability to promote community and academic engagement, are cornerstones of the KU First Year Experience. As the creator of the Common Work of Art, Regier will visit KU classes throughout the day Nov. 15 before speaking at the Museum.

“Impending Future Bus” is now on view in the 20/21 Gallery at the Spencer Museum of Art.

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