Radio Imagination

Video: Radio Imagination trailer

Artists and Writers in the
Archive of Octavia E. Butler
Feb 2016–Jan 2017

“I have the kind of imagination that hears. I think of it as radio imagination.” 
-Octavia E. Butler

Radio Imagination celebrates the life and work of Pasadena science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006). Organized by Clockshop, the program centers on ten contemporary art and literary commissions that explore Butler’s archive at the Huntington Library. New work will premiere alongside performances, film screenings, and literary events throughout the year.

Recognition of Butler’s influence across artistic disciplines and her contribution to the Los Angeles cultural landscape is long overdue. Radio Imagination will bridge Butler’s groundbreaking fiction with contemporary conversations about the future of Los Angeles. The series will span 2016, the tenth anniversary of the writer’s death.

Radio Imagination
artists and writers will conduct first-hand research in Butler’s archive at the Huntington Library and create new work based on their research. New poetry and creative nonfiction by Tisa Bryant, Lynell GeorgeRobin Coste Lewis, and Fred Moten will premiere at a public reading event. New contemporary artworks by Laylah Ali, Courtesy the Artists (Malik Gaines and Alexandro Segade), Lauren HalseyMendi + Keith Obadike, Connie Samaras, and Cauleen Smith will be presented at an exhibition at Armory Center for the Arts (October 1, 2016–January 7, 2017).

Radio Imagination is curated by Clockshop.

Octavia E. Butler Papers at the Huntington Library

Butler spoke at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens on several occasions, affording Curator of Literary Manuscripts Sara “Sue” Hodson the opportunity to express interest in Butler’s papers. A shy and private person, Butler included the bequest of her papers to The Huntington in her estate plan.

After Butler’s untimely death in 2006, her papers were sent to The Huntington. Arriving in two full file cabinets and about 35 large cartons, the papers required intense processing over three years. Butler’s filing systems were haphazard and she kept nearly everything—from her very first short stories, written at the age of 12, to book contracts and programs from speaking engagements. The phenomenal body of materials includes 8,000 individually cataloged items and more than 80 boxes of additional ephemera: extensive drafts, notes, and research materials for more than a dozen novels; numerous short stories and essays; and correspondence, ephemera, and commonplace books.


Photo: Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

The collection opened to researchers in November 2013. The finding aid for the Octavia E. Butler Papers is available in the Online Archive of California. Forming an unprecedented collaboration with Clockshop, The Huntington Library invited the artists and writers involved with Radio Imagination to work in the archive.

Limited Edition ‘More Heat’ and ‘See To It’ Totes

Clockshop has produced two limited edition tote bags featuring handwritten text by Butler to benefit the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund. Purchase a tote and learn about the scholarship fund.

Press Kit

Download the Radio Imagination press release (.pdf)

View all trailers and videos (Vimeo links)

Download Clockshop and Radio Imagination logos (.eps/.png)

Download press photo, Butler bio and participating artists and writer bios (.pdf)

Radio Imagination
is presented in partnership with The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West; ALOUD, at the Los Angeles Public Library Foundation; Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network; and Armory Center for the Arts.

Radio Imagination is made possible with support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation and the Pasadena Art Alliance.

Special thanks to Tisa Bryant, William Deverell, Ayana A. H. Jamieson, and Robin Coste Lewis.