Krista Franklin

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Krista Franklin
Alma materKent State University, Columbia College Chicago
Known forCollage, poetry
AwardsCave Canem Foundation Fellowship

Krista Franklin is an African-American poet and visual artist, whose main artistic focus is collage. Her work, which addresses race, gender, and class issues, combines personal, pop-cultural, and historical imagery.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Franklin is originally from Dayton, Ohio. She received her BA from Kent State University,[1][2] and her MFA in Interdisciplinary Book & Paper Arts from Columbia College Chicago where, in 2013, she wrote her thesis titled The Two Thousand & Thirteen Narrative(s) of Naima Brown[3] that brought to life a girl changeling on the precipice of young adulthood and has received recognition for her work from such prestigious programs as the Arts Incubator[4] at the University of Chicago.[1][5][6] She is based in Chicago, Illinois, where in 2007 she was the recipient of a Chicago Artist Assistance Program Grant for her art book SEED (The Book of Eve), which she says was based upon the dystopic visions of the award-winning African-American science-fiction writer Octavia E. Butler.[7][8][9]


Franklin's artwork includes themes of surrealism and utopic and dystopic visions, with subtexts of black beauty, self-reflection, and the African Diaspora.[10] She has described her approach as both Afro-Futurist and Afro-Surrealist.[11][12] She has stated, "Inspiration is a myth created to feed the romantic lure around artists and artistry. Art is thinking and labor."[13]

Her artwork has been featured in the television series Empire.[2] Her collages have also been used on the covers of several poetry collections,[1] including John Murillo’s Up Jumps the Boogie (2010)[14] and Lita Hooper’s Thunder in Her Voice (2010).[15] She has also had her work published in American Studies,[16] Callaloo,[17] and Ecotone.[18]

Regarding her talent in the art of collage, Franklin said, "I learned the art of collage through watching my family make something out of nothing," she said, "That’s really where my collage aesthetic comes from. It comes from an idea of necessity, you know, how you make something beautiful out of scraps."[19] In one of her series exploring race and gender, particularly in the context of the grotesque, she used human hair as a main material.[20]


Franklin's writing was influenced by the poets of the Black Arts Movement, including Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez.[1]

Her poetry is included in the anthologies The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order (Penguin Books, 1999)[21] and Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Penguin Books, 2001).[22][23] She has had her poetry published in Black Camera.[24] In 2011, she was a featured performer as well as a celebrity judge at the Gypsy Poetry Slam held in Lexington, Kentucky.[25]


Dreams in Jay Z Minor was a collaboration with Amanda Williams (artist) and centers around utilizing male figures as muses. It incorporated rap lyrics, bible quotations, and, at first glance, ostentatious visuals. The exhibition was held at Blanc Gallery in Chicago from October 5 to December 29, 2012. [26][27]

Library of Love was an interactive exhibition, described as a “visual love letter to Chicago”, created in collaboration with Stephen Flemister, Norman Teague, and Raub Welch. It featured a mix-tape made for the event by Perpetual Rebel. It was on view at the Arts Incubator in Washington Park in Chicago, 2014.[10][28]

Like Water was an exhibition at the Center for Race, Politics, and Culture (CSRPC), curated by Dara Epison, and ran from October-December of 2015. The exhibition featured a fictional character who is a shape shifter and black woman, named Naima Brown. The character sheds her hair with each transformation. Franklin was inspired to create the character by Octavia Butler’s novel Wildseed. Additional collages were shown. Franklin gave an associated artist talk on October 23, 2015. .[29][30][31]

Franklin was Creative Lead for the FEAR installation in White Box Gallery at the University of Dayton. It ran from November 10, 2015-December 17, 2015. She transformed the prior installation, titled Consumption, into the new FEAR iteration. In conjunction, Franklin also hosted a free workshop called “Altering Fear: An Altered Book Workshop” on Saturday, November 7, 2015 from 2-4.[32][33]

From February 12, 2016 until March 4, 2016, Franklin’s exhibition Heavy Rotation was held at Lacuna Artist Lofts in Chicago. The show was comprised, in part, of paper works made from pulped album covers.[2][34]

to take root among the stars was held at the Poetry Foundation from September 27 2018 - January 24, 2019 and coincided with the publication of Under the Knife [35]

Speculative Retrievals at the Salina Art Center is a group exhibition which runs from June 7-July 28, 2019 and also features the work of Julia Goodman and Sahar Khoury, who are also paper artists. Franklin gave an artist’s talk at the opening. Franklin is also the artist-in-residence at the Salina Art Center Warehouse through June 23, 2019. In addition to other activities, Franklin plans to continue work on her “Heavy Rotation” series [36]


  • Study of Love & Black Body (poetry)[37]
  • SEED (The Book of Eve) (art)[38]
  • Under the Knife is an artist book which is the third in a trilogy about the body, published by Candor Arts in Chicago[39]

Awards and fellowships[edit]


  • "Inspiration is a myth created to feed the romantic lure around artists and artistry. Art is thinking and labor."[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Profile: Krista Franklin". Poetry Foundation.
  2. ^ a b c Lee Ann Norman (March 1, 2016). "Afrofuturist Artist Krista Franklin: And, Also, Too". JSTOR Daily. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Body Archive Of Naima Brown". Tumblr.
  4. ^ "Arts Incubator". University of Chicago.
  5. ^ "Interdisciplinary Book & Paper Arts, MFA". Columbia College. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  6. ^ Sabine Quetant (April 16, 2015). "8 Afrofuturist Artists You Need To Follow Right Now". Blavity. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  7. ^ "Featured Visual Artist". Tidal Basin Press.
  8. ^ "Chicago Artist Assistance Program Grant".
  9. ^ "Krista Franklin". Blanc Chicago Art Gallery.
  10. ^ a b "FEATURE: Required Intelligence, Punk Artistry In The Midwest - Krista Franklin". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  11. ^ Hazel, Tempestt (May 28, 2012). "Sixty Inches From Center » Black To The Future Series: An Interview with Krista Franklin". The Chicago Arts Archive.
  12. ^ "Art. Krista Franklin. Afrofuturism. Afrosurrealism". SUPERSELECTED - Black Fashion Magazine Black Models Black Contemporary Artists Art Black Musicians. Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Steed, Munson (August 30, 2014). "Meet artists Stephen Flemister and Krista Franklin". Rolling Out.
  14. ^ Murillo, John (2010). Up Jump the Boogie: John Murillo, Martin Espada: 9780981913148: Books. ISBN 978-0981913148.
  15. ^ "Thunder in Her Voice by Lita Hooper". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  16. ^ Franklin, Krista (2013). "Oshun as Ohio Player(s)". American Studies. 52 (4): 253. doi:10.1353/ams.2013.0128. ISSN 2153-6856. S2CID 144069960.
  17. ^ Franklin, Krista (Summer 2006). "Ascension: (put your hands in the air)". Callaloo. 29 (3): 910. doi:10.1353/cal.2006.0142. ISSN 1080-6512. S2CID 162314141.
  18. ^ Franklin, Krista (2008). "Seven Mixed Medium Collages". Ecotone. 3 (2): 44–52. doi:10.1353/ect.2008.0081. ISSN 2165-2651. S2CID 178692584.
  19. ^ Go, Kimberly (May 21, 2015). "NU Arts Night brings Chicago artists to Northwestern". The Daily Northwestern. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  20. ^ "Krista Franklin and the Grotesque". YouTube.
  21. ^ "Krista Franklin". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  22. ^ "Bum Rush the Page". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  23. ^ "Gathering Ground". The University of Michigan Press. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  24. ^ Sáma, Metta; Thomas, Greg (Spring 2013). "Close-Up Gallery: Teza". Black Camera. 4 (2): 106–133. doi:10.2979/blackcamera.4.2.106. ISSN 1947-4237. S2CID 153369861.
  25. ^ "Poetry Slam Returns With New Award, Headliner Krista Franklin - UKNow". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  26. ^ "Bronzeville's New Blanc Gallery featured by writer Kylie Zane for latest exhibit "Dreams In Jay Z Minor" by Amanda Williams and Krista Franklin - And The Ordinary People Said". November 23, 2012. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  27. ^ "Architecture Adjunct Associate Professor Amanda Williams Featured In "New Dreams in Jay-Z Minor" Exhibit". Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  28. ^ "Library of Love | UChicago Arts | The University of Chicago". Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  29. ^ ""Like Water": A Solo Exhibition of Works by Krista Franklin".
  30. ^ Aolie, Peyton (October 15, 2015). "Krista Franklin's Like Water exhibit explores female ability to shapeshift". The Chicago Maroon. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  31. ^ CSRPC UChicago (2015-11-12), 10.23.15 | "Like Water" Artist Talk & Reading with Krista Franklin, retrieved 2019-06-09
  32. ^ "Face it". Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  33. ^ "FEAR Makes Its Way Into ArtStreet's IAN Installation Series : University of Dayton, Ohio". Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  34. ^ "ART PARTY presents Krista Franklin: Heavy Rotation". Eventbrite.
  35. ^ Foundation, Poetry (2019-06-09). "Krista Franklin: " take root among the stars."". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  36. ^ Demuth, Gary. "Passion for Papermaking". Salina Journal. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  37. ^ "On Blackness Re-imagined: A Performance and Conversation with Krista Franklin and Michael Warr". WBEZ. May 19, 2012.
  38. ^ D. Denenge Akpem (July 2, 2011). "'Are you ready to alter your destiny?': Chicago and Afro-Futurism, Part 1 of 2". Retrieved April 26, 2016.
  39. ^ "Stitched Together: Krista Franklin Discusses "Under the Knife"". Newcity Lit. 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  40. ^ Super User. "Krista Franklin".
  41. ^ Derricotte, T.; Eady, C.; Dungy, C. T.; (Organization), Cave Canem (2006). Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-06924-8. Retrieved April 25, 2016.
  42. ^ Foundation, Joan Mitchell. "Artist Programs » Artist Grants". Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  43. ^ "Two Alums Named Recipients of 2018 Joan Mitchell Foundation Grants".

External links[edit]