The album art for Sun Ra’s Discipline 27-II juxtaposes chaotic imagery with themes of strict order—an apt metaphor for the paradoxical dynamics at play in Ra’s music. The LP jacket depicts red, yellow, and orange bald-headed figures emerging from the sun facing other figures of the same colors; some of the latter seem to oppose the figures coming from the sun while others appear to embrace them. This depiction suggests both harmony and discord, comradery and animosity. By giving the figures red, yellow, and orange skin, the album artwork draws attention away from the races of the figures into a suggestion of an otherworldly, spiritual presence, as the figures seem neither human nor alien. Could these figures be the angels invoked by other Ra album titles like Angels and Demons at Play? Sun Ra believed in the importance of spirituality in making music, asserting that music played with the proper spirit could “defeat the destructive elements on earth.” This album artwork seems to be in line with this philosophy as the artwork captures a cosmic battle where the “sound of the sun” is both feared and embraced.
—Sindiso Mafico ’19
Sun Ra’s album cover Discipline 27-II and Ouattara Watts’s watercolor Wait Until Tomorrow both feature symbols of hands reaching up and outward, beyond the boundaries that seem to connect them. The eye-hand in Watts’s piece is a hamsa, a sign of protection in many faiths. Together with the arrows, which are on a curved upward trajectory, the hamsa suggests a connection to some of Sun Ra’s key goals: to create a new world, to reinvent the past to change the future, and to break out of the systematic and institutional oppression under which people of color live. Watts’s arrows and Ra’s music both point forward, asking us to accept the completeness of work that, like the struggle for freedom, is still unfinished.
—Miracle Freckleton ’20
From the exhibition: Art Forms of Dimensions Tomorrow (April 13 – April 16, 2017)